#Fail! AAA Travel Pros Reveal Top Five Mistakes

Week two of AAA's Summer Travel Series

Phoenix, Ariz., May 10, 2012. Many travelers are hard at work planning the perfect summer getaway. However, with all the details involved in planning a trip, it’s easy to make a mistake that can lead to a travel nightmare. For the second week of its Summer Travel Series, AAA Travel pros are revealing five of the biggest travel missteps and how to avoid them.

“A simple oversight can lead to a travel blunder that could cost you big bucks, or cause you big headaches,” said Amy Moreno, director of travel services for AAA Arizona. “Being aware of some of the top mistakes travelers make can help prevent them—and result in a vacation that is memorable for all the right reasons.”

To keep travelers from suffering a vacation fail, AAA Travel experts would like to reveal the top five travel mistakes, their potential costs and how to avoid them: 

1. Waiting. In large part, the days of last minute travel deals are over, especially during peak summer months. As such, AAA recommends making all travel reservations a minimum of four to six weeks in advance. In addition, if you see a good deal, take it. Holding off for a lower rate could backfire.

 Fail cost: Last minute planning has the potential to increase airfare costs by several hundred dollars per person.

2. Failing to purchase travel insurance. Travel insurance is a consumer’s best defense against the unexpected, from lost luggage or a medical emergency to being able to cancel a trip for any reason. Therefore, AAA recommends protecting yourself and your vacation investment from unforeseen circumstances and fees by purchasing travel insurance. But beware—all travel insurance is not created equal, so it’s crucial to understand what’s covered under the policy you buy in order to avoid another mistake.

 Fail cost: If you’re forced to cancel a vacation without an insurance policy—or cancel for a reason not covered by the policy you purchased—you could be out the entire cost of the trip.

3. Not taking advantage of discounts and incentives. Travelers should seek discounts and perks such as free breakfasts—like those that come with being a AAA member—wherever they can. Members have access to the largest member discount program in the world, with savings at more than 164,000 locations worldwide. Members with smartphones can locate discount partners nearest them using the AAA Discounts app. 

• Fail costNot taking advantage of free parking or free breakfast offers can tack on up to $50 per day to your stay. In addition, a family of four could fail to save up to $160 on admission to Disneyland if they didn’t take advantage of their AAA Member Discount.

4. Failing to thoroughly inspect your rental car. Don’t overlook the walk around the vehicle before you sign the paperwork. Fully inspect the vehicle inside and out, and be sure that you and the rental company note the same damage. If it’s dark out or dimly lit, insist on moving the vehicle somewhere you can see. This will ensure that you do not get stuck footing a bill for damage that you didn’t incur. 

• Fail cost: Depending on the extent of the damage, this could cost less than $100 and up to thousands of dollars, including “loss of use” fees while the rental car company has the vehicle repaired.

5. Forgetting to factor in fees. Fees are commonplace in today’s travel industry, and can stretch the cost of your trip far beyond the base airfare and hotel rate. Being aware of these fees when booking a trip will help you budget for these extra costs.

• Fail cost: Checked bags, overweight bags, resort fees and parking fees could drive the cost of your flight and hotel room up anywhere from $50 to a couple hundred dollars per trip.

“While there are several components of planning a trip that travelers can do on their own, there are other instances, where a traveler could benefit greatly from professional travel guidance,” added Moreno.

AAA’s Summer Travel Series will be distributed each Thursday in May leading up to Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer. For more information on summer travel, visit AAA.com/travel.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and auto travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.