AAA: Fewer Americans Traveling This Thanksgiving Due To Pandemic

AAA Travel anticipates at least a 10 percent drop in travel this Thanksgiving.

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(Undated) – Fewer Americans are expected to travel this Thanksgiving due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

AAA Travel anticipates at least a 10 percent drop in travel this Thanksgiving, the largest one-year decrease since the Great Recession in 2008.

Based on mid-October forecast models, AAA would have expected up to 50 million Americans to travel this week, a drop from 55 million in 2019.

However, as the holiday approaches, AAA expects that number to be even lower due to rising COVID-19 positive cases, renewed quarantine restrictions and CDC travel health notices.

“The wait-and-see travel trend continues to impact final travel decisions, especially for the Thanksgiving holiday,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “The decision to travel is a personal one. For those who are considering making a trip, the majority will go by car, which provides the flexibility to modify holiday travel plans up until the day of departure.”

According to AAA, travel by automobile is projected to fall 4.3 percent to 47.8 million travelers, and account for 95 percent of all holiday travel.

AAA expects to rescue more than 413,000 Americans at the roadside this Thanksgiving. So, what should you know before you go:

  • Plan Ahead. Check with state and local authorities where you are, along your route, and at your planned destination to learn about local circumstances and any restrictions that may be in place.
  • Follow Public Health Guidance. Consistent use of face masks combined with social distancing (at least 6 feet) and regular handwashing are the best ways to lower your risk of contracting COVID-19. Be sure to pack face masks, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and a thermometer to help protect and monitor your health. Also pack water and extra snacks to reduce the need to stop along your trip.
  • Verify Before You Go. Call ahead to minimize any last minute surprises.  
    • Hotels – Prior to any hotel stay, call ahead to ensure your hotel is open and ask what precautions they are taking to protect guests. Ask about social distancing protocols like capacity reductions in common spaces, hotel staff requirements to wear masks at all times and if all amenities are available, like restaurant dining.
    • Car rentals – If renting a car, ask what has been done to clean the vehicle. Hertz, for example, has introduced Hertz Gold Standard Clean, an enhanced vehicle disinfectant and sanitization process. For extra peace of mind, use disinfecting wipes to wipe down door handles, steering wheels, shifters and control panels.
  • Helpful AAA Resources. Visit AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map for the latest state and local travel restrictions. Use to plan your road trip and help determine which rest stops, gas stations, restaurants and hotels are open along your route.

Those who do hit the road this Thanksgiving can expect cheaper gas prices. On average, gas prices nationally are nearly 50 cents cheaper than this time last year.

Approximately 2.4 million are projected to travel by air, nearly half of the number that flew for the holiday last year. This would be the largest one-year decrease on record.

Despite a projected record-low among of flyers, AAA notes holiday airfares are the lowest they have been in three years.

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