Senior Specialist, Public and Government Affairs, VA
C: (804) 921-6198
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA (Friday, October 2, 2020)- As we head into the first weekend of October, during a school year like no other, families are trying to find ways to get in some real downtime as virtual learning, delayed and cancelled fall sports seasons become the norm. Families are booking “schoolcations” for the fall, where they rent a room, condo, cabin or cottage that has Wi-Fi at a favorite location, allowing the kids to attend classes during the day but have fun in the afternoons and evenings.
Federal and State Parks across the country were overwhelmed by visitors over the summer as travelers headed toward road trip destinations were they could social distance and enjoy the outdoors. Fall is looking to be busy too. Virginia State Parks report that bookings for lodging and campsites for autumn are up over this same time last year. Sandbridge realty in Southern Virginia Beach has seen intense interest in fall bookings at cottages at the beach with some weeks already sold out. As a result, many property owners on the coast pushed back closing their pools for the fall as they are a hot commodity even with the cooling temps.
“Travelers are finding off-season and discounted rates at many popular travel destinations as they enjoy a Great American Road Trip during a season where many are usually unable to travel because of school events” said Morgan Dean, Senior Specialist with AAA. “Virtual Learning gives families the option to attend classes remotely from their favorite vacation destinations.”
Whether it’s the mountains for hiking or biking, or the lake, river, bay or beach for paddling, many are taking some of their favorite toys with them. As gyms and fitness centers shut their doors during the height of the pandemic, many people turned to walking, biking and paddling for exercise and to give them a break from being at home.
Bike stores quickly sold out with the non-profit PeopleforBikes Coalition reporting online sales surged 1400% percent in early March and swelled over 5,000% in late May when compared to 2019. Even today, many shoppers are finding empty shelves in bike departments and some are buying online and driving up to three hours to pick-up up the lone bike that has come in on a big box store’s delivery truck. Bikes have become so popular for travelers, Amtrak just announced its expanding the “Carry-on Bike Program” allowing passengers to bring their bikes with them on trips in the Northeast.
Many outdoor stores also quickly sold out of kayaks during the quarantine. Whether it’s a kayak, a canoe or car-top carrier, AAA advises adventurers to take care when attaching it to the roof of your car.
“Don’t let your bike, kayak, canoe or standup paddleboard get destroyed because it wasn’t strapped down correctly. On top of causing serious damage to your vehicle or other vehicles nearby, an item coming loose from a vehicle at interstate speeds can become a deadly missile on the road that puts lives at risk” said Dean.
Tips for securing bikes to vehicles:
- Check with car dealerships as many offer bike racks designed to fit specific vehicles, or chose an aftermarket rack that lists your vehicle’s model year as one to which the rack can be safely installed.
- Make adjustments to ensure that bike racks fit securely to the vehicle. Some racks, for example, may require longer screws or other adjustments to make them secure.
- Always load the heaviest bike in the slot closest to the vehicle and the lightest bike farther from the vehicle.
- Lock bikes to the rack to prevent theft, especially now with their popularity soaring.
- When using a trunk rack, beware of spoilers as many cannot support a rack. Do not attach mounting straps to the spoiler as it can damage the vehicle, potentially cause bike(s) to fall off and/or result in a crash. Do not attach mounting straps to glass as it may crack the window. Mounting straps can also damage door/trunk/hatch gaskets if they are not installed correctly. Follow installation directions carefully.
- Racks should be attached securely to roof rack or cross bars. Note, it can be tough for some people to get the bike up over their heads to be able to mount it on a roof rack, which can lead to damage to the vehicle. This is usually at least a two person job.
- Follow manufacturer’s guidelines.
Did you know? AAA Memberships cover bike breakdowns. If a cyclist can get their bike to a road, our emergency roadside team will come to them. The cyclist must remain with the bike, bicycle towing mileage mirrors vehicle towing mileage and a bicycle call counts as a service call.
Tips for Strapping down a Kayak/Canoe/SUP
- Check with car dealerships as many offer boat racks designed to fit specific vehicles, or chose an aftermarket rack that lists your vehicle’s model year as one to which the rack can be safely installed.
- Check with automakers for racks designed for specific makes/models of vehicles, or consider buying J-racks or a Universal Mounting Kit with straps and foam blocks to help you secure watercraft to the roof/roof rack.
- Cam straps are recommended as they provide just the right tension without overtightening. Avoid using ratchet straps as they might put too much pressure on your boat and crack or damage it if overtightened. Bungee straps are okay as a secondary strap, but should not be used as the primary holding strap as they can stretch and loosen under the forces of highway speeds and allow a kayak/canoe/SUP to fly off.
- Ensure boat is centered both front to back and side to side on the roof or roof rack.
- Feed cam strap under the roof rack, across the vehicle, under the roof rack on the other side and then feed back across the vehicle above the kayak/Canoe/SUP and tighten. Repeat for the rear of the roof rack.
- Securely attach a bow line to the front of the kayak/canoe/SUP and run it down the hood to the tow hook under the front bumper.(Note: In some vehicles, the tow hook is with the tire jack and has to be screwed in to the vehicle frame)
- Attach a stern line to the boat and attach the other end under the bumper or to the trailer hitch.
- Consider stopping along your trip to check and make sure the straps are all staying tight.
- AAA recommends having a full tank of gas, properly inflated tires and wiper blades in good condition. Have a certified auto technician do a thorough maintenance check before heading out on road trips. Information on AAA Car Care locations and approved auto repair shops can be found here.
Plan ahead for a safe trip
In these times of the pandemic, AAA reminds travelers it’s important to take some extra precautions to reduce risks of the coronavirus if you do make the decision to take a trip. Be sure to pack your hand sanitizer and wipes while following CDC protocols by wearing a mask and staying 6 feet apart while in lines or other public places. Check the COVID Travel Tracker. Visit AAA’s Covid-19 Travel Restrictions Map at TripTik.AAA.com for the latest state and local travel restrictions.
AAA’s TripTik digital product has incorporated instant access to COVID-19 updates from around the United States. Users simply define the stops along their itinerary within the digital product, and the latest COVID restrictions and information is just a click away. Printed TripTik’s also have new COVID-19 support, as loading routes via the integrated QR code automatically includes information and restrictions for each stop, while also providing users with access to direct deep link URL’s to the GIS maintained country wide restriction map and information pages.
VA Mailing Address:
9210 Arboretum Pkwy, Ste 290
Richmond, VA 23236
AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 60 million members nationwide and more than one million members in Virginia. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.
For more information, visit www.AAA.com.