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One-quarter of Americans plans to vacation outside the U.S. in the next 18 months, according to a new AAA survey, while 80% have already taken a foreign trip and 2 in 5 — nearly 77 million adults — have rented or used a vehicle while abroad.
Sales of international driving permits, which can help licensed U.S. travelers rent automobiles overseas, have soared 33% in the past five years, according to AAA.
“AAA has found that road trips are increasingly appealing to U.S. travelers while overseas,” Paula Twidale, vice president of AAA Travel, said in a release. Road trips meet travelers’ desire for “experiential travel” and “ways to intimately engage with their destination,” she added.
While a valid U.S. driver’s license might be all a vacationer needs to rent a car in some major foreign destinations, many other countries do not recognize them with an accompanying “IDP,” as the documents are known. In most international jurisdictions, it’s illegal to drive without both a valid license and insurance coverage.
According to AAA, more than 150 countries accept IDPs, international legal documents that translate American state driver’s license information into 10 languages. AAA and the American Automobile Touring Alliance are the only organizations authorized by the State Department to issue IDPs. Information and IDP applications are available online at the AAA and AATA websites.
“Travelers can easily apply for an International Driving Permit with an application accessible online or in person at AAA, whether they are a member or not,” said Twidale. “The nominal $20 fee is a small price to pay for peace of mind while traveling overseas.”
AAA has also released findings about just where all those U.S. global jetsetters — drivers or not — are headed through the end of 2020. Long-popular European urban destinations and warm-weather tropical locales still head the list.
Piazza della Rotonda and the Pantheon in Rome, the top international destination for Americans in 2019-2020, according to AAA.
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Here are the top 10 international destinations Americans will head to over the next 18 months, based on AAA Travel bookings:
- Cancun, Mexico
- Montego Bay, Jamaica
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
- Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
- Barcelona, Spain
All 10 international destinations in the AAA list honor IDPs, according to the organization.