According to a recent AAA Travel survey, American travelers are making vacation plans through the end of the year, but remain cautiously optimistic about those future plans. Sixty-seven percent of U.S. adults planning a vacation before the end of the year report some degree of uncertainty they will actually be able to take their vacation. As a result, some are opting for spur-of-the-moment travel decisions as they take coronavirus implications into account. According to AAA’s survey, one in five who are planning a trip before the end of this year but haven’t booked yet expect to do so within one week of traveling. AAA advises these travelers to take proper precautions to help keep themselves and others safe while away from home.
The vast majority of trips this fall -- 80% -- will be road trips. In a sign of the rising popularity of auto travel this fall, use of AAA’s popular TripTik road trip planning tool has doubled compared to the spring and early summer. Not surprisingly, when they pack up their cars, more Americans are heading to destinations known for outdoor recreation and socially distanced fun than in previous years.
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“As many Americas continue to work from home and attend school virtually, this temporary lifestyle change opens up new and exciting possibilities for fall travel – particularly for those who deferred summer travel plans,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “For those who choose to travel, the great American road trip continues to be the preferred method of getting out and exploring the United States. AAA advises these travelers to plan ahead and take precautions to be a responsible traveler.”
Lower prices at the gas pump may also be motivating some would-be travelers to hit the road this fall. On average, gas prices in Texas are around 40 cents cheaper than this time last year, and are the cheapest fall prices since 2016.
Top Road Trip Destinations
This fall, vacationers are showing a preference for the great American road trip and U.S. destinations that allow for socially distanced, outdoor recreation. New additions to the list of top road trip destinations this year include Keystone, South Dakota – home to Mount Rushmore – and Colorado Springs.
“Trips that allow people to take advantage of the great outdoors are particularly appealing this fall. From hiking and exploring state and national parks, to visiting beaches and outdoor gardens, all of these top road trip destinations feature activities that allow families to enjoy America’s backyard within their individual comfort levels,” continued Twidale.
What to Know Before You Go
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to advise that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
For those who make the personal decision to travel, AAA recommends travelers check with state and local authorities where they are, along their route, and at their planned destination to learn about local circumstances and any restrictions that may be in place. These additional tips and helpful information play an important role in being a responsible traveler:
- Check AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map as well as CDC’s COVID-19 data tracker for the latest state and local travel restrictions.
- 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.
- Use TripTik.AAA.com to plan your road trip and help determine which rest stops, gas stations, restaurants and hotels are open along your route. Also check out AAA.com/RoadTrips for more road trip inspiration.
- Take your car into a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop to ensure it is road trip ready. To find one near you, visit AAA.com/AutoRepair.
- 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 and hotel staff requirements to wear masks at all times.
- 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 mind, use disinfecting wipes to wipe down door handles, steering wheels, shifters and control panels. Hertz is also offering deals for road trippers this fall. Book four or more days at any Hertz neighborhood location and get one day free. Visit AAA.com/Hertz for more details.
- Consult a travel agent; they are a great resource and act as your advocate if your plans change unexpectedly. AAA travel counselors are ready to help Americans when they are ready to plan their next adventure. Visit AAA.com/Travel to get started.
AAA continues to monitor travel trends and will release a traditional Thanksgiving holiday travel forecast in November. For more information, visit http://tx-aaa.iprsoftware.com/.
Survey findings are the result of a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population overall. The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97% of the U.S. household population. Most surveys were completed online; consumers without Internet access were surveyed over the phone. A total of 1,041 interviews were completed among U.S. adults, 18 years of age or older. The margin of error for the study overall is 3.9% at the 95% confidence level.
About AAA: AAA provides more than 61 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting www.AAA.com. Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas.