Usually AAA publishes a press release about its travel and gas price forecasts just before long weekends, such as this Memorial Day. This year they did not care; Covid-19 lockdowns and our various levels of commitment to these rules have rendered all modeling useless. However, the organization predicted some good news: the re-emergence of the American road trip
For the first time in 20 years, AAA are not sure what the roads will look like this Memorial Day weekend:
For the first time in 20 years, AAA will not issue a Memorial Day travel forecast, as the accuracy of the financial data used to create the forecast has been undermined by COVID-19. The annual forecast – which calculates the number of people traveling during the holiday weekend – will return next year.
Anecdotal reports indicate that fewer will hit the road compared to previous years for what is considered to be the unofficial start to the summer travel season.
“Last year, 43 million Americans traveled to Memorial Day Weekend – the second highest travel volume in record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes in 2000,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “With social distance guidelines still in practice, this weekend’s travel volume is likely to set a record low.”
Memorial Day 2009 currently has the record for the lowest travel volume of nearly 31 million travelers, according to AAA. The weekend, which came to the end of the Great Recession, traveled 26.4 million Americans by car, 2.1 million by air and almost 2 million by other forms of transport (trains, cruises, etc.).
Gas prices have begun to climb out of the Covid crater, according to Wall Street Journalalthough prices are still below what producers need to make money and, at $ 1.86 per gallon, much lower than last year’s average of $ 2.84 per gallon.
As the country opens up more, travel will increase again as people take their summer vacation. AAA found online bookings for hotels are increasing, albeit slowly. AAA also found that more Americans will stick to domestic travel this year, especially road trips, which makes sense: cheap gas and a desire to stay off the recycled air of an aircraft means more Americans can soon hit the road as a vacation than in years past . In February, shortly before Covid-19 really took hold in the United States, an AAA Travel survey found 90 percent of the 173 million Americans who had summer leave on the books planned to take an American vacation. Although not all of these are road trips, we can guess that a fairly large number will be.
Of course, this is good. Long-haul roads can be some of the most introspective, fun and challenging ways to see this country and spend time in your car. It is a truly American past, one that encourages spontaneous stops and getting lost. Before you go on the road, however, it is worth noting that the CDC currently recommends that Americans not travel at all except for necessary reasons and the difficulty varies from state to state. Some states still require visitors to quarantine themselves for 14 days before going public. Make sure to look for travel rules in the states you visit. Or maybe just stay home this year.