Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Travel Professionals Offer Tips

April 16, 2007 08:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time
AAA Travel Professionals Offer Tips for Solo Travelers

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Eleven percent of all leisure travelers in the U.S. travel alone and the number is growing. So it is no surprise that travel counselors are seeing increasing business from single travelers who are looking not only for advice about great destinations but also about how to travel safely.
Travelers between the ages of 18-35 are the largest group of solo travelers, accounting for 35 percent of all single travelers, according to the Travel Industry Association. The next largest group of solo travelers are 35-49 year olds (27 percent), 50-64 year olds (26 percent) and 65+ (12 percent).
The number of single travelers is growing, according to a recent survey of AAA/CAA clubs, which found that 27 percent of travel counselors are seeing an increase in the number of trips they are booking for single travelers.


AAA asked more than 100 of their travel professionals in the U.S. and Canada about their advice for today’s single traveler and the responses provide some interesting insights for the leisure traveler who is out there alone. For both men and women, AAA/CAA travel professionals said that Europe is the first destination they would suggest to single travelers looking for advice on where to vacation. For women traveling alone Hawaii and the Caribbean were other top vacation suggestions. For men, Mexico and Hawaii came in second and third as the top destinations suggested by counselors.
AAA/CAA travel professionals also offered valuable advice for solo travelers. The top three suggestions are to take prearranged tours, travel with a group and leave a copy of your itinerary and international travel documents (passport, visas) at home with family and friends.
“There are nearly 90 million single people in the U.S. and this is clearly a market that the travel industry has been focused on in the past few years,” said AAA’s VP of Travel, Sandra Hughes, citing data from the U.S. Census Bureau. “More than half of these single Americans are women and the industry is seeing the impact of this particular group due to the increasing popularity of girlfriend getaways and other women-only vacations.”
In response to the growing trend, AAA offers the following advice for singles traveling the world alone.
Make Copies. If you are traveling internationally, be sure to make a couple of copies of your passport and leave one at home with a relative or friend and store the other one in a separate area of your luggage. If you should lose your passport this copy makes it much easier for the local US embassy to replace the document.
Keep Emergency Numbers. It is also a great idea to take along the emergency numbers of the credit card company and card number information (keep in separate secure area on your person) if you should lose your wallet.
Plan ahead. If you are traveling alone it is important to know the lay of the land before you arrive. That means doing research, reading maps and guide books and talking to certified travel professionals who have experienced the destination first hand. Know where your hotels are located, how you will get around and where you want to go. The fewer decisions you need to make when you first arrive, the less likely it is you will get lost or distracted. AAA/CAA travel agencies distribute 26 different TourBook® guides for destinations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Club locations also provide travel guides and maps for North America and Europe. Also be sure to have the proper documentation when traveling internationally - valid passport and visas (if required), medical and trip cancellation/interruption protection for unexpected emergencies, and an International Driving Permit if traveling by car. AAA offices can provide assistance in obtaining these services.
Research your hotel in advance. Not all hotel rating systems are equal. Some do not include a full inspection, others are based on traveler reviews, which are not reliable, and others do not take into consideration hotel service and only look at the hotels’ physical features. Before arriving, check out the hotel’s AAA Diamond Rating which will give you the most detailed information available about the hotel’s features, services and amenities. More than 60,000 hotels are rated by AAA and the details are available to everyone at AAA.com.
Try to exude a calm, no nonsense air in public places. You may not always feel calm and confident, but others will pick up on your cues and sometimes just acting confident will do the trick.
Avoid single supplement fees by using a travel professional. Many tour companies and cruise lines charge extra fees for single people who travel alone. However, an expert travel counselor can help you find deals for single travelers that are not available, or may be difficult to find on the Internet. A travel professional can also assist solo travelers by placing them on the vacation product (cruise or tour) that best suits their respective lifestyle needs with like minded travelers.
Other suggestions include: Don’t go out alone at night, be careful to limit alcohol consumption, carry a cell phone, arrive during daylight hours, and wear comfortable shoes. Prepaid Travel Money Cards, offered through AAA, can protect travel funds against loss or theft.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides 50 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at www.AAA.com.