Stats: International Road Trips on the Rise

Rear view of young happy people enjoying road trip in their convertible and raising their arms up
Photo by g-stockstudio/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

International road trips are on the rise, according to a new report from AAA. The organization’s latest survey shows that 80 percent of Americans have taken at least one vacation outside the United States, and two in five of those, or nearly 77 million adults, have rented or used a personal vehicle while doing so. Additionally, AAA reports that there has been a 33 percent increase in international driving permits (IDPs) sold in the last five years (through 2018). 

An IDP is a legal document that translates U.S. driver’s license information into 10 foreign languages. More than 150 countries accept IDPs, AAA said, and many countries do not recognize U.S. driver’s licenses without an accompanying IDP. It is illegal to drive without a valid license and insurance in most places. 

The finding dovetails with a similar trend MMGY Global spotlighted in its latest Portrait of American Travelers survey, which noted the rise of what it termed “wings and wheels” travelers. According to that study, since 2015, there has been a 64 percent increase in respondents reporting that they have taken a road trip. What’s more, flying to a destination and taking a road trip from there has proven especially popular with Millennial families: 57 percent of Millennial families in the report said that they took road trips that began from another city, as compared to 41 percent of singles and 28 percent of couples. 


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In other key trends from the survey, one-quarter of Americans say they plan to take an international vacation over the next 18 months. AAA’s advance travel booking data suggests that many travelers will head to popular European destinations like Rome, London, Dublin and Paris, and warm-weather locales in Mexico and the Caribbean, including Cancun, Montego Bay and Punta Cana, with most travelers in search of unique experiences.

These are the top international travel destinations, based on AAA Travel bookings for trips over the next 18 months:

  1. Rome, Italy
  2. Cancun, Mexico
  3. London, England
  4. Dublin, Ireland
  5. Paris, France
  6. Montego Bay, Jamaica
  7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  8. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  9. Munich, Germany
  10. Barcelona, Spain

The findings are the result of a survey of 1,002 adults living in the continental United States, conducted from August 22 to 28. 

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