One-quarter of Americans plan to take an international vacation over the next 18 months, according to a recent AAA Travel survey. Advance travel booking data suggests that many travelers will head to popular European destinations including 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.

However, the great American road trip remains a popular vacation option. For many, road trips are increasingly appealing to U.S. travelers while overseas. In fact, AAA’s survey revealed that nearly 77 million adults have rented or used a personal vehicle while on vacation outside the U.S.

An international driving vacation comes with additional planning and paperwork for which travelers need to be prepared. An International Driving Permit (IDP) is a legal document that translates U.S. driver’s license information into 10 foreign languages. The nominal $20 fee is a small price to pay for peace of mind while traveling.

More than 150 countries accept IDPs, however, many countries do not recognize U.S. driver’s licenses without an accompanying IDP, and it is illegal to drive without a valid license and insurance in most places. AAA is one of only two entities authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue these licenses. Members and non-members alike can easily apply for an International Driving Permit with an application accessible online or in person at AAA.

International travel tips

Planning an international vacation can be a daunting task, but travelers don’t have to go it alone. Here are some tips to prepare for a trip overseas:

Book early for next year’s trip. Many travel suppliers offer early payment incentives to travelers who book and pay for their trips before the end of the year. Travelers who lock in their plans now can take advantage of great cost savings.

Seek the expertise of a knowledgeable travel agent. They can make recommendations and help navigate the myriad options available for international travel, saving time, money and the hassle of planning solo.

Review the AAA Travel Guides. They’ve been recently enhanced with additional international destination information, such as tips on where to go, how to get around, what to do and see and what not to miss on vacation.

Consider purchasing travel insurance. Protect your vacation investment and ensure a smooth vacation experience.

Be aware of your surroundings and remain vigilant while traveling internationally. Refer to the U.S. State Department for detailed recommendations and country-specific information. Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which makes it easier for the nearest embassy or consulate to contact U.S. citizens in case of an emergency.

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