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HARTFORD, CT (December 21, 2020) – Given public health concerns around COVID-19, AAA Travel is projecting that fewer New Englanders will travel for the year-end holiday than at any other time in the two decades that AAA has been keeping record. In fact, across New England, the number of people expected to travel for the year-end holiday is down more than 35% compared to last year - more of a drop than anywhere else in the country.

AAA is projecting that almost 1,750,000 fewer New Englanders will be getting away for the holiday, typically a popular time of year for vacations.

 “While Thanksgiving tends to be a long weekend spent with family or friends, the year-end holiday is typically a time for longer getaways and vacations – but not this year,” says Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in Greater Hartford. “And, COVID is definitely the difference.”

Still, not everyone is staying home. AAA is projecting that more than three million New Englanders will travel over the year-end holiday (3.2M) – and most of them (93%) will drive to their destinations.

Nationwide travel

AAA projects at least 34 million fewer travelers compared to last year’s holiday season, a decline of at least 29%. Still, as many as 84.5 million Americans may still travel from Dec. 23 through Jan. 3.

The CDC urges Americans not to travel for the holidays this year, warning that travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.

For those who make the personal decision to travel, it is important to understand the risks involved and take steps to keep yourself and others safe. Seek the advice of a trusted travel advisor and refer to AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map and TripTik.AAA.com for the latest state and local travel restrictions, and to help determine which rest stops, gas stations, restaurants and hotels are open along your route.

What to Know Before You Go

  • Plan Ahead. Check with state and local officials along your route and at your destination to learn about local guidance and any restrictions that may be in place. This includes what is expected of you when you return home. Many localities are requiring COVID-19 testing prior to and after travel.
  • Follow Public Health Guidance.
    • The CDC recommends taking a COVID-19 test one to three days before travel and another three to five days after travel, plus reducing nonessential activities for seven days after travel. Travelers should be aware of these and other local and state travel restrictions, including testing requirements and quarantine orders, and additional CDC guidance for before, during and after their travels.
    • 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.


Holiday travelers are continuing to take a wait-and-see approach to their travel decisions. With COVID‑19 cases steadily increasing this month, the expected continued rise will likely prompt some Americans to make last minute decisions to not follow through with upcoming travel plans, which was the trend during the lead up to Thanksgiving.

Road Trips Will Decline, but Remain Preferred Method of Travel

Over the year-end holiday, AAA is projecting 31% fewer New Englanders will be traveling by auto compared to last year – more of a drop in auto travel than any other region of the country. Still, auto travel is expected to replace some trips previously taken by bus, train or airplane, given the flexibility, security and comfort traveling by car provides.

 

2020 Year-End Holiday Travelers across New England

 

OVERALL
Travel

Automobile

Air

Other
(Bus, Train, Cruise)

2020

3.200 M

2.986 M

197,000

17,000

2019

4.948 M

4.331 M

475,000

142,000

Change

-35.3%

-31.1%

-58.5%

-87.7%

 

 

 

 

 

 


For those who decide to hit the road for the year-end holidays, gas prices remain nearly 50 cents cheaper than this time last year. Recent monthly gas prices are 19% below 2019 averages.  

“Typically, cheaper gas prices are an incentive for last minute trips, especially around the holidays. But the lower prices and less traffic this year aren’t driving decisions to hit the road. New Englanders are looking to the public health landscape and cancelling or re-thinking year-end travel,” Parmenter added.

No Holiday for AAA

AAA reminds those hitting the road to plan their route in advance and ensure their vehicle is ready for the road, to help avoid a breakdown along the way. AAA expects to rescue more than 16,000 members over the year-end holiday – just in the greater Hartford area alone – and almost half of those calls will require a tow. AAA makes it easy to request assistance—by phone or text (1-800-AAA-HELP), app or online—and members can track the service technician’s progress as they make their way to your vehicle.

Large Declines Expected by Air and Other Modes of Travel

Only 197,000 New Englanders are expected to book flights for the holidays, a decline of nearly 60% from 2019. AAA reminds air travelers to wear their mask, and wipe down seats, armrests, belt buckles and tray tables using disinfecting wipes, as an extra precaution.

Only 17,000 New Englanders are expected to opt to travel by other modes, including bus and train this holiday season, a sharp decline of almost 88% as some bus and train trips will be shifted to car travel or cancelled.

AAA Members Find Savings at Shell

AAA members who decide to hit the road can fill up for even less at Shell stations when they join the Fuel Rewards® program at AAA.com/Shell Nov. 15 through Dec. 31. In addition to the five cents per gallon everyday offer, members will receive an additional 10 cents off per gallon on their first three fill-ups after joining for the first time as a Fuel Rewards® member, for a total savings of 15 cents.

Methodology:

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. For the purposes of this forecast, the year-end holiday travel period is defined as the period from Wednesday, Dec. 23 to Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021. The 12-day holiday period is the same length as last year. This forecast was finalized during the week of Nov. 23.

In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes, using macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators; and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays. For the 2020 year-end holiday travel forecast, IHS Markit also examined changes in the IHS Markit containment index regarding local COVID-19-related restrictions as well as the national case count and trend.

About IHS Markit:
IHS Markit (NYSE: INFO) is a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide. The company delivers next-generation information, analytics and solutions to customers in business, finance and government, improving their operational efficiency and providing deep insights that lead to well-informed, confident decisions. IHS Markit has more than 50,000 business and government customers, including 80 percent of the Fortune Global 500 and the world’s leading financial institutions. Headquartered in London, IHS Markit is committed to sustainable, profitable growth.

CT Mailing Address:
815 Farmington Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06119

AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than one million members in Connecticut.  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.

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