Strong economic growth prompted a record number of us here in Illinois to travel during the holidays, and experts fully expect that trend to continue here in 2018.

According to a new report from AAA-Chicago, 80% of Illinoisans are planning on a vacation of at least 3 days (requiring overnight accommodations) sometime this year. 10% remain uncertain, while 10% are planning on a "stay-cation" at most.

From AAA-Chicago:

Some of the harsh winter weather we have experienced could be the catalyst that drives more travelers to seek warm weather destinations in the coming months.
Looking ahead at trends this year, travel to Europe looks strong, thanks to a favorable exchange rate for Americans. Also, domestic travel continues to grow. Destinations like Florida and California are always popular. Meanwhile, Hawaii and Alaska are experiencing more advanced bookings than what we normally see this time of year.

AAA’s survey reveals that only 2 percent of Illinoisans feel unsafe traveling and would rather stay close to home, amid concerns over terrorism and political unrest. While the overwhelming majority of Illinoisans would still travel, 62 percent would take certain precautions like maintain a heightened sense of awareness (42%), avoid international travel (13%), and stay away from large crowds/events (7%). Twenty percent of those surveyed say they simply do not travel enough for terrorism to be a concern.

AAA suggests the following tips to make your travel plans go smoothly:

  • Book early – Booking early gives you both the luxury of selecting the best cruise cabin or preferred seat on your flight, at a more competitive rate. As hotels, cruises, and flights fill-up, prices usually rise due to lower availability.
  • Use a travel agent – Not only can they advise you on where to go and what to do when you get there, but also hook you up with exclusive upgrades, find competitive pricing, and tell you what you need to know about your destination.
  • Consider travel insurance – When the unexpected happens, travel insurance can be your best friend. Hurricanes, flight cancellations, even illness while overseas could cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars. While travel insurance can vary in both coverage and price, you can find policies that reimburse you for health emergencies and/or out-of-pocket expenses due to a delayed/cancelled flight.
  • Know your destination – Are you traveling abroad? Can you bring your pet? Refer to the U.S. Department of State to find information regarding visa requirements, what you can bring, and detailed travel alerts and warnings.