AAA sees an increase in international travel services

AAA is seeing a surge in the number of members requesting international travel-related services, including passport photos, international driver’s licenses and foreign currency, a strong indicator that overseas travel is rebounding in concert with the easing of COVID-related restrictions both at home and abroad.

Indeed, on average, since the beginning of the year, a sampling* of AAA points of sale indicates an 85% increase in the number of travelers visiting our stores for ID photos compared to last year, and The increase in demand for International Driving Permits is even greater – up almost 185% from last year. Foreign currency requests may also require some time.

“We encourage anyone planning to travel internationally to request foreign currency several weeks before their departure date because demand is so high,” said Shawn Steward, spokesperson for AAA South Dakota. “We want to be sure we can meet every request.”

The dollar’s exchange rate against the euro, which is the best for 20 years, is also behind the increase in international travel.

“The strong dollar represents savings for travelers in some of AAA Travel’s most popular destinations, including Paris, Amsterdam and Rome,” Steward added.

While applications for passport photos and international driving licenses have both risen sharply from last year, they are still around 20% behind 2019.

According to a recent AAA travel poll**, 13% of South Dakotans said they were planning at least one international trip this summer – and that was before the United States lifted its requirement for a COVID test. negative to return to the United States.

While international destinations have largely reopened to visitors, AAA reminds travelers that accommodations, tour packages and flights may still be limited or canceled due to staffing issues. It is therefore essential to plan ahead and work with a travel consultant to ensure the best possible travel experience.

Seven tips for planning an international trip:

  1. Work with a travel consultant – Even though many restrictions have been lifted, complexities related to COVID persist. With the surge in international travel, flights, tours, cruises and other packages are very popular. Work with a trusted travel advisor to help you explore options, book the best deals and deal with any disruptions.

  2. Book early – Flights, hotels, tours, cruises, car rentals – the sooner the better to get the best rate, the best flights and take advantage of discounts for prepayment.

  3. Currency exchange several weeks before departure – AAA outlets offer most foreign currencies. Redeem ahead of time to ensure you have cash on hand as soon as you land.

  4. Apply for an international driving permit (if required) as soon as you confirm your travel plans – Supply chain issues have limited availability, so travelers are encouraged to plan accordingly.

  5. Protect your investment – Consider travel insurance. A solid policy provides a safety net should the unexpected happen before or during your trip. Policies vary. Discuss the options with your travel consultant. They know you, your trip, your budget and your specific needs and can easily tell you which travel insurance policy is best for you.

  6. Protect your identity – In addition to protecting physical documents such as your passport, travelers should take extra steps to prevent identity theft, an inconvenience at all times but especially with overseas travel. Travelers are encouraged to register ProtectMyID®, the Experian Identity Theft Protection service provided FREE to all AAA members.
  7. Pad plans for more flexibility – In view of flight cancellations and other potential disruptions, travelers should plan to arrive at their destination at least one full day prior to tour or cruise departure to reduce stress and minimize risk to miss a critical match.

In addition to travel counsellors, AAA’s international travel assistance services include the following (services may vary by office):

  • Passport photos (available at AAA outlets in Rapid City and Sioux Falls)

  • International driving licenses

  • Foreign currency

  • RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) Wallets and Bags

  • Travel insurance

For more travel tips AAA travel advisors swear by, visit TheExtraMile.com.

*The sampling of AAA Retail locations included stores in CT, DE, KS, KY, MD, NJ, OH, OK, PA, SD, VA, WV and the District of Columbia.

**AAA Travel Survey Methodology: The AAA survey of 645 South Dakota residents was conducted April 11-12, 2022 by Public Policy Polling. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.7%.