Before you could research and book your travel in an instant on the Internet, you needed AAA Travel. The information superhighway has made DIY travel planning extremely easy, but travel agencies including AAA Travel still exist. If you’ve grown up in the Internet age, you’re probably wondering what is AAA Travel?
If you or you’re family booked a flight or planned on driving across the country as a child, it’s possible you used an AAA service. Whether you needed roadside assistance, a TripTik, or a travel agent to book your trip, it could’ve been AAA that was there for you.
Today you might not think you need to use a travel agency because they are too expensive, but travel agents can actually be cheaper because they have access to discount rates.
What is AAA Travel?
AAA Travel–more commonly known as AAA (pronounced “triple A”)–is a full-service travel agency that helps you book some of the following travel expenses:
- AAA flights
- AAA hotels
- AAA car rentals
- Theme park tickets
- Vacation planning
Like Costco Travel, AAA lets you book travel online without the help of an agent.
Unlike Costco, non-AAA members can at least book flights, hotel rooms, cruises, and rental cars online without having to purchase a membership plan. If you a find a better rate on AAA than directly from the travel provider or another travel booking site like Priceline or Expedia, you can make your reservation with AAA and save a few bucks.
How Much Does AAA Travel Cost?
There is a free and premium version of AAA Travel. Whether or not you need to pay a membership fee depends on which travel services you need.
While membership fees can change at any time, the current membership plans start at $66 per year and cap at $127.
All membership plans include AAA Travel’s popular roadside assistance benefit that makes you eligible for free towing, spare tire replacement, jumpstarting a dead battery, and fuel delivery for your personal or rental vehicles. The benefit levels increase as you upgrade to a higher plan, like you can get a free 100-mile tow instead of a 5-mile tow for example.
As an AAA member, you can also get additional travel discounts on the basic travel purchases that non-members that can book too. And, you get full access to the AAA travel agents for in-person service.
When AAA Travel is Free
You can book the following travel purchases for free online:
- Rental Cars
As a non-member, you won’t have assistance from a AAA travel agent and you won’t qualify for exclusive member-only discounts. Basically, the booking experience is like using Priceline or Expedia which can offer better deals than booking directly from the carrier or hotel.
When You Need to Pay for AAA Travel
You will need to spring for a membership if you want these travel services:
- Discounted theme park tickets
- Roadside assistance
- Vacation planning help from an AAA travel agent
- Maps and Tourbooks
- Additional travel discounts on flights, hotels, cruises, and rental cars
The two biggest reasons to consider joining AAA Travel are for the vacation planning assistance and additional travel discounts.
Is AAA Travel Really Cheaper Than Others?
AAA Travel isn’t always cheaper, but we’ll show some instances when they can be. And, you don’t have to be a member to book all of these travel types.
You will most likely find the best AAA Travel deals for hotels, vacation planning, and discounted theme park and attraction tickets.
There are some member-only specials for the other travel purchases including cruises and rental cars, but you should still compare the prices with other booking sites first to make sure you get the best deal.
Booking a Hotel with AAA Travel
You can search for hotels online and reserve a room as a non-member. There is a field box to enter your AAA number if you have one to be eligible for an additional discount.
When looking for a room in Nashville, AAA brings up the listings from several different hotel brands. Sponsored listings appear first on the search but that doesn’t mean these are the lowest priced rooms. Continue to scroll down and look for rooms with the “AAA Rate” tag above the price as you can save some money booking with AAA Travel instead of directly from the hotel.
Taking the Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown for an example. Booking a room with AAA costs $212 per night plus fees and taxes. The exact same room costs $232 if you book it directly through the hotel website. That’s an instant $20 savings.
If you’re an AAA member that waits until you hit the road to book a hotel room, you can use the AAA mobile app to find hotels en route that offer AAA discounts. You can book online or show your membership card at check-in to apply the discount to your nightly rate. This discount can potentially be in addition to the everyday online discount.
Booking a Flight on AAA Travel
As a non-member, you probably won’t find any spectacular discounts on AAA Travel. A quick comparison between AAA Travel and Google Flights shows virtually identical results.
If you’re already booking your hotel or another travel purchase with AAA, booking your flight with them can save you time. On a positive note, at least you won’t pay any third-party booking fees or a higher rate.
Of course, if you want to redeem your airline miles for an award flight, you still need to book directly through the airline.
The primary reason you might consider joining AAA Travel, besides the roadside assistance benefits, is for in-person vacation planning assistance. As the largest travel agency in the nation, there’s most likely a local AAA office nearby.
If you don’t have the time to thoroughly plan a trip or maybe you’re traveling out of the country and don’t know which resort to stay at or island to visit. Your AAA agent is a professional travel planner, meaning it’s their job to schedule the best trip at the best price.
Your agent will research the different travel options and book your flight, hotel rooms, and any prepaid excursions. By bundling your travel, you might even get a discount because of your AAA membership!
Although your Garmin GPS device or cellphone Google Maps app has made it virtually impossible to get lost when driving to a new place, AAA members can still order TripTiks and travel booklets that can be sent in the mail or accessed online.
By ordering a digital version, you can build an interacting TripTik with up to 12 destinations. AAA updates your guide four times a day with the most current fuel prices, AAA-approved hotels and restaurants that offer member-only discounts, and construction delay information. Much of this information is available online for free if you know where to look for it, but having it all in one place with the AAA TripTik can be worth the convenience.
Is AAA Travel Worth It?
Joining AAA Travel can be worth it if you want access to a full-service vacation planner and exclusive travel discounts. While the internet has made it extremely easy to find the lowest travel prices available, using a travel agency like AAA can save you time which can be just as valuable as saving money.
AAA Travel is best for vacation planning assistance, roadside assistance, and booking select travel purchases at a discount. If the savings exceed the annual membership fee, it’s worth joining AAA.
For the past 20 years, Johnny Jet averaged 150,000 miles and 20 countries a year. He has been featured in many major publications and have appeared on ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, NBC and PBS.[“Source-forbes”]