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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Anyone looking to hit the road in the coming months is advised to start booking right now, ahead of what AAA Northeast is calling the “busiest summer travel season in years.”

AAA said they expect hotel rooms, rental cars and plane tickets to sell fast this year as travelers try to make up for lost time during the COVID-19 crisis.

Travel costs like hotels, airfare, recreation, food and beverages have all increased over the past year, indicating a rise in demand, according to AAA. The Consumer Price Index among those costs increased by nearly 5%.

“The key is giving yourself plenty of time to plan ahead,” AAA Northeast Vice President Cyndi Zesk said. “Even as inflation continues to drive up costs across the travel industry, Americans are prioritizing leisure travel. With high demand this summer, it’s important to do your homework.”

AAA offered these five tips to make sure you’re prepared for the summer travel season:

1. Prioritize your passport

If you don’t have a passport, AAA advises applying for one as soon as possible since the process can take up to 13 weeks and you can’t travel internationally without one.

If you do have one, make sure to check the expiration date.

“Some countries require passports be valid for six months beyond your departure date from the United States,” AAA said.

2. Sign up for TSA PreCheck

The TSA anticipates that air travel will be above pre-pandemic numbers this summer, so it’s important to get to the airport at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights. AAA also recommends signing up for TSA PreCheck to “expedite the security process and save time.”

3. Cruise!

One way to simplify your travel budget is to look for a cruise, since your room, food and entertainment are all included. AAA says you can also save on airfare by finding a cruise that departs from your area.

Book early though, since AAA says cruises are in high demand this year.

4. Think about ground transportation too

Make sure you’re able to get around by reserving your rental car early, and AAA also recommends reserving airport parking to save time.

Those traveling internationally may need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP), which can be done through AAA.

5. Be flexible to save, but reserve early

Mid-week flights tend to be cheaper, so AAA advises flying on Tuesday or Wednesday. You can also save money by looking for hotels in the city center.

“Also, find out how much the hotel charges in resort fees, parking, and internet — all of that adds up!” AAA added.

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