STATE: AAA reports summer travel is surging

Published 8:54 am Wednesday, May 10, 2023

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From AAA – The Auto Club Group in the Carolinas

If you haven’t booked your summer travel plans yet, AAA says you better do it soon. The Auto Club Group is seeing very strong bookings for cruises, tours, hotels and flights.

“Travel demand has come roaring back this summer and we’re already seeing large crowds at popular domestic and international travel destinations,” said Debbie Haas, vice president of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “The recent decision to lift all international travel restrictions will only add to demand. So, we encourage travelers to do their research and work with a travel expert. They can help you find the best value on a relaxing vacation.”

More than Half of North Carolinians Plan to Take a Summer Vacation

According to a new AAA travel survey, 83% of North Carolinians will travel this year. More than half (64%) of them will take a summer vacation. However, less than a quarter (21%) of summer travelers have finalized their plans. The most popular vacations they’re planning are:

  • 62% – Beach Destinations
  • 29% – City/Major Metro Destination
  • 24% – Theme Park
  • 17% – Resort Vacation (all-inclusive/multi-amenity hotels)
  • 17% – National/State Park

Top Summer Traveler Stats and AAA Travel Tips

87% plan to take a road trip. Leave early. Expect congestion near beaches and attractions, particularly on weekends and holidays. Traditionally, gas prices peak in the spring and fluctuate through the summer. Use the AAA mobile app to compare prices.

18% will not get a vehicle inspection before their road trip. AAA urges drivers to ensure their vehicle is road trip ready. You can find a trusted local mechanic by visiting

27% plan to take a commercial flight. To reduce the likelihood of flight delays or cancellations, book a non-stop flight that leaves early in the morning. Arrive at the airport at least 2 hours early. Download the airline’s mobile app, to receive updates about your flight status. Consider travel insurance, which provides coverage options for flight cancellations and delays (see below for more).

8% plan to take a cruise. Summertime sailings are filling up fast. In many cases, travelers are looking at 2024 departures to find the itinerary they want. Travelers who book a cruise with a AAA travel advisor may be eligible for discounts and benefits like early boarding, specialty dining upgrades, and onboard credits. Travel advisors can also unlock additional savings on your airfare when bundling with your cruise.

26% plan to rent a car. Rental car availability has improved, yet inventory is likely to be tight at airports, due to strong demand. Rates are often more expensive the closer you get to your desired rental date, so book early for the best combination of availability and price. AAA members can also receive up to 20% off base rates at Hertz car rental locations.

International travel bookings are up more than 200% compared to 2022. Ensure your passport is up to date. Strong demand and pandemic-related backlogs have led to passport processing delays. Wait times have increased from 8-11 weeks to 10-13 weeks. AAA members get exclusive rates on expediting services for U.S. passports and global travel visas with RushMyPassport.

Travel insurance is a must! There are a variety of reasons travelers use it: medical emergencies, flight cancellations, severe weather, or unexpected life events.

  • Cancel for any reason. These policies enable travelers to cancel their trip for covered reasons allowing the policyholder to recoup non-refundable deposits.
  • Flight cancellations. If your flight is cancelled, passengers can receive compensation for covered out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Flight delays. Policyholders could be reimbursed for flight delays of as little as three hours.
  • Medical coverage. International travelers can get policies that provide medical coverage, since their health benefits in America do not generally extend outside the United States.

Plan ahead! Whether it’s mapping out gas stations or electric vehicle charging stations along your route and at your destination, or planning which attractions and activities you want to visit when you arrive, AAA offers TripTik and Trip Canvas, two free travel tools to keep you organized and prepared.