Jana Tidwell
Public Relations Manager, PA
O: (302) 299-4426
C: (302) 353-6563
jtidwell@aaamidatlantic.com

Kathleen Zinszer
Sr. Public Aff. Specialist, PA/DE
O: (302) 299-4168
C: (610) 291-7312
KZinszer@aaamidatlantic.com

AAA Mid-Atlantic: Americans will take
700 Million Trips this Summer

Trends show travelers are eager, but anxious to explore, booking last-minute trips;
2020 summer travel decline first in more than a decade.

PHILADELPHIA, PA. (June 25, 2020) This summer, AAA forecasts Americans will take 700 million trips based on economic indicators and state reopenings. That number is down nearly 15% compared to last July through September and is the first decline in summer travel since 2009. AAA booking trends show Americans are making travel plans, though cautiously and more spur of the moment.

“Americans will get out and explore this summer though they’re taking a ‘wait and see approach’ when it comes to booking and are likely to book more long weekend getaways than extended vacations,” said Jana L. Tidwell, manager, Public and Government Affairs, AAA Mid-Atlantic. “When venturing out, travelers will take to the road with 683 million car trips which are likely to help relieve cabin fever and satisfy pent up demand.”

This summer is expected to see the return of the Great American Road Trip as cars will reign supreme as the favored mode of transportation, accounting for 97% of vacations. Car trips will also see the smallest decrease in travel volume of just 3% year-over-year. For travelers looking to plan their Great American Road Trip, AAA recommends visiting AAA.com/roadtrip for inspiration, to explore destinations and to plan the perfect route to their next adventure.

“The great American road trip is still one of the best ways to extend family bonding while exploring stateside destinations, and it can give many feeling of safety and control,” said Tidwell. “Regardless of where you’re headed, planning ahead ensures your travel experience will be both safe and enjoyable.”

Were it not for the pandemic, AAA would be projecting 857 million trips during the third quarter, a 3.6% increase over last year. By this analysis, the pandemic wiped out nearly 150 million person-trips this summer.

  • Car trips reign supreme accounting for 97% of the favored mode of transportation.
  • Car trips will also see the smallest decrease in travel volume of just 3% year-over-year.
  • Air travel will be off by about 74%.
  • Rail, cruise ship and bus travel will slide by 86%.

 

July 1 – Sept 30, 2019
total volume

July 1 – Sept 30, 2020 total volume forecast

YOY Difference

Automobile

706M

683M

-3.3%

Air

57.9M

15.1M

-73.9%

Rail, Cruise, Other

64.3M

9.3M

-85.5%

Total

857M

707M

-14.6%

AAA travel experts have begun to see positive trends in travel, noting that hotel and rental car bookings have been gradually increasing since April. Air travel has been slower to rebound. The share of travelers making plans 48 hours to 7 days before departure – a sign that people are arranging last-minute trips – is significantly higher than normal.

Road Trips + Top TripTik Destinations
With travel restrictions lifting but social distancing still recommended, it’s no surprise that 97% of summer trips are road trips. That’s up from an average of 87% over the last five years. Road trips allow travelers to make their own schedule and customize stops based on comfort level and interests. For families, especially those with small children, it is an easy and less expensive way to travel. And an added benefit right now - gas prices remain low.

This summer, road trippers should plan their travel in advance using AAA TripTik – a tradition that has guided generations of road trippers with paper and digital maps. Plus, it now includes COVID-19 Travel Restriction updates.

“Beyond routing your route in advance, it is important to book hotels and plan out gas and food stops. Also, keep in mind that some national parks and attractions have capacity limits, so if there is a must-do activity on your trip, you'll want to make arrangements for these in advance,” added Tidwell.

When it comes to TripTik destination searches, prominent cities that typically draw large crowds are not as popular. Orlando, FL has dropped from the top searched city destination to number eight while Denver, CO makes the biggest climb from number 10 to number one: (Data based on TripTik.AAA.com searches from March 15 – June 14, 2020)

  1. Denver, CO
  2. Las Vegas, NV
  3. Los Angeles, CA
  4. Seattle, WA
  5. Phoenix, AZ
  6. Portland, OR
  7. Myrtle Beach, SC
  8. Orlando, FL
  9. San DIego, CA
  10. Nashville, TN

 


Prior to your hotel stay, AAA recommends calling ahead to ensure your hotel is still open and asking about any restrictions or changes to the check-in process. It’s likely that the hotel has reduced the number of times guests have face-to-face interactions with other guests and hotel staff. When you check into your room, remember to wipe down surfaces with disinfecting wipes. Pay special attention to surfaces such as light switches, door knobs, faucets and remote controls.

National Gas Price Average
AAA expects the national gas price to average near $2.25/gallon for the third quarter of 2020, which will be a 15% decline from the $2.66 average seen last summer. This will be the cheapest summer for filling-up since 2016. Locally, today’s (June 24) gas prices average for Philadelphia is $2.36, while South Jersey and Delaware drivers are paying $2.11. Each region is at least 35 cents less than one year ago.

When at the pump, AAA recommends wearing disposable gloves or using a plastic sandwich bag to avoid touching the pump handle. When back in your car, be sure to clean your hands with sanitizer or wipes.

Road Trips & Traffic across the Country
INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, analyzed the top 20 metropolitan areas and all states to inform travelers of the chances they will run into traffic when they travel. While the top 20 metro areas will remain below typical traffic congestion, a number of states could expect to see traffic congestion rise to normal levels – but still be below usual summer traffic patterns.

“While the amount people drive is still low for this time of year, we know millions will be taking road trips in the months ahead. The good news is, the congestion they will encounter is nowhere near what we typically see in a summer,” says Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst at INRIX.

Using the latest vehicle miles traveled (VMT) data available, INRIX has classified three categories to analyze traffic:

  • Lower: Probably not going to run into “normal” traffic congestion while traveling
  • Middle: Below 50% chance to run into “normal” traffic congestion while traveling
  • Upper: More likely than not to run into “normal” traffic congestion while traveling

Top 20 Metropolitan Areas Traffic Congestion Forecast
No metro area in the top 20 by population are in the upper third of VMT recovery.

 

Lower Third

 

Middle Third

 

Boston, MA

 

Dallas, TX

 

Baltimore, MD

 

Denver, CO

 

Chicago, IL

 

Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

 

Detroit, MI

 

St. Louis, MO

 

Los Angeles, CA

 

Houston, TX

 

Miami, FL

 

Atlanta, GA

 

New York, NY

 

 

 

Philadelphia, PA

 

 

 

Phoenix, AZ

 

 

 

San Diego, CA

 

 

 

San Francisco, CA

 

 

 

Seattle, WA

 

 

 

Tampa, FL

 

 

 

Washington, D.C.

 

 

 

 

State Traffic Congestion Forecast

 

Lower Third

 

Middle Third

 

Upper Third

 

Arizona

 

Alabama

 

Alaska

 

California

 

Colorado

 

Arkansas

 

Connecticut

 

Delaware

 

Idaho

 

Florida

 

Georgia

 

Iowa

 

Hawaii

 

Indiana

 

Kansas

 

Illinois

 

Kentucky

 

Missouri

 

Louisiana

 

Maine

 

Montana

 

Maryland

 

Michigan

 

Nebraska

 

Massachusetts

 

Minnesota

 

North Dakota

 

Nevada

 

Mississippi

 

Oklahoma

 

New Jersey

 

New Hampshire

 

South Carolina

 

New York

 

New Mexico

 

South Dakota

 

Pennsylvania

 

North Carolina

 

Tennessee

 

Rhode Island

 

Ohio

 

Utah

 

Texas

 

Oregon

 

West Virginia

 

Vermont

 

Virginia

 

Wisconsin

 

Washington

 

 

 

Wyoming

 

 

Other Modes of Transportation
Other modes of transportation – cruises, buses and rail – have seen the most dramatic drop in travel volume. Most cruise lines have suspended all departures until at least August 1, with only limited offerings after that. AAA, however, has noted growing demand for departures in 2021.

Rail travel offers a unique way to see the country, and AAA offers a number of itineraries to explore iconic cities as well as the National Parks and beyond at AAA.com/vacations.

Know Before You Go
No matter how a traveler gets to their final destination, AAA recommends considering these points before you go:

  • Check the CDC’s Covid-19 data tracker, municipal and state health departments and local news for updates on coronavirus cases and continue to do so while on the road.
  • Visit AAA’s Covid-19 Travel Restrictions Map at TripTik.AAA.com for the latest state and local travel restrictions.
  • Pack face coverings, gloves and cleaning supplies - like disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer - and a thermometer.
  • Take all necessary travel documentation, including health insurance cards.

Methodology:
Because of the pandemic’s impacts on travel, AAA did not release Memorial or Independence Day travel forecasts.  AAA’s Q3 projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. For the purposes of this forecast, the summer travel period is defined as July 1 through September 30. 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. The complete AAA/IHS Markit forecast is available here.

About AAA:
AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 32 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. To join, visit AAA.com.

About INRIX:
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

Follow us on Twitter: @AAAPhillyNews

AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 60 million members nationwide and more than 3.2 million members in Pennsylvania.  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 appss for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information, visit www.AAA.com.

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