Americans’ appetite for travel seems insatiable. As the world re-opened in 2022, the number of travelers booking flights through AAA jumped more than 150%*. The number of travelers booking cruises and tours, mostly to international destinations, exploded as well, and all indications are that the upward trend will continue in 2023.
In fact, almost 30% of respondents to a recent survey by Destination Analysts said they would likely travel outside the United States this year.
“Travel bookings continue to climb,” says Ragina C. Ali, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “There is not only pent-up demand, but the dollars saved during the pandemic are now being invested in more extravagant travel. As an example, many of our cruise partners tell AAA that Black Friday was their number one day for bookings… ever.”
The dramatic return to travel is also evident at AAA Retail locations. “Not only are travel bookings on the rise, but travel-related services, including passport photos, TSA PreCheck® enrollments, and foreign currency exchange were also up year-over-year,” Ali says.
In 2022, a record number of flyers attended our TSA PreCheck® events – enrolling in the program that affords travelers an expedited experience through airport security – and we expect the popularity of this offering to continue this year. AAA Mid-Atlantic will be partnering with IDEMIA, a TSA PreCheck® authorized enrollment provider again to offer events in the Baltimore area in the spring.
Are we there yet? Not quite.
Despite the dramatic increase in bookings, AAA Travel, like most of the travel industry, has yet to fully return to pre-pandemic levels for tours, cruises, flights and car rentals, though hotel bookings have surpassed what they were prior to COVID. Whether travel will surpass 2019 levels in all categories in the coming year remains uncertain but, barring any unforeseen global disruptions, an uptick is most certainly expected.
AAA’s Six Tips for Travel in 2023:
- Work with a travel advisor – Given the staffing challenges that continue to disrupt air travel, flight delays or cancellations are not uncommon. A trusted advisor can help you explore options, book the best deals and advocate on your behalf should any issues arise, ensuring the best possible travel experience from beginning to end.
- Book early – Flights, hotels, tours, cruises and car rentals remain at a premium. The earlier you book, the better chance to lock in favorable rates and take advantage of discounts for pre-paying.
- Protect your investment – Consider travel insurance. A solid policy provides a safety net should something unexpected happen ahead of or during your trip. Policies vary, so talk to your travel advisor about options. They know you, your trip, your budget and your specific needs and can easily walk you through what travel insurance policy makes the most sense.
- Protect your ID –In addition to protecting physical documents such as your passport, travelers should take extra steps to avoid identity theft, an inconvenience at any time but especially when traveling.AAA Members get FREE Identify Theft Protection with their Membership, and it is one of our most valued offerings.
- Track your luggage – Pack peace of mind by including a tracking device in your luggage. That way, if your luggage does not arrive when you do, at least you will be able to see where it is and ensure its safe return. Trackers such as the Chipolo (pictured) are available at most AAA Retail locations or online at Shop.ClubAlliance.AAA.com.
- Exchange for foreign currency in advance – AAA Retail locations offer most foreign currencies. Exchange in advance to ensure you have some money on hand as soon as you touch down.
To learn more about the top travel destinations in 2023, visit TheExtraMile.com.
Ready to map out a trip?
Trip Canvas, AAA’s new online tool, provides a one-stop vacation planning experience. Travelers can explore options, talk to a travel advisor and book travel all in one convenient location – without ever leaving home.
*AAA Booking data from Nov. 1, 2021, through Oct. 31, 2022