HARTFORD, CT (July 1, 2020) – AAA is projecting New Englanders will take almost 38 million road trips this summer, just a small drop in road travel as compared to last summer, so anyone packing up the car to get away for the long weekend should expect a lot of company.
“This summer we will see the return of the Great American Road Trip, with most New Englanders expected to actually take multiple road trips between now and the end of September,” says Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in Greater Hartford. “Instead of just one major summer getaway planned and booked long in advance, travelers will be taking more trips that are planned 7 days to just 48 hours before departure.”
The number of summer road trips New Englanders are expected to take is down just 2% year over year - the lowest decline when compared to other regions of the country, some of which are seeing a drop off in road travel of more than 5%.
AAA Summer Travel Trends across New England
Road trips will make up about 97% of all summer travel for New Englanders because folks still have a strong desire to get away but, because of Covid-19 concerns and restrictions, they are opting not to fly, cruise or take other modes of transportation at this time.
While summer road trips are down just 2% across New England, air travel is down almost 75% and travel by other modes is down almost 85%.
New England Travel
July 1 – Sept 30, 2019
July 1 – Sept 30, 2020 total volume forecast
Rail, Cruise, Other
AAA Nationwide Summer Travel Trends
The road trip travel trend across New England mirrors AAA summer travel trends nationwide.
This summer, AAA forecasts Americans will take 700 million trips based on economic indicators and state re-openings. That number is down nearly 15% compared to the same period last year - July through September - and is the first decline in summer travel since 2009.
Air travel is down nearly 75% but road trips are down just 3%, with AAA projecting that Americans will take 683 million.
Planning Ahead will be Key
AAA is encouraging travelers to plan ahead to ensure availability of lodging, campgrounds, parks and attractions which may have limited capacity in accordance with Covid-19 safety guidelines and restrictions.
“It has never been so important for travelers to plan ahead. AAA is encouraging travelers to map routes, book reservations and buy tickets to attractions in advance to ensure availability. This is not the summer to just jump in your car and go. It is critical that travelers know where they are going and know what to expect when they get there,” Parmenter says.
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 for their adventure.
AAA is also recommending that travelers understand and abide by the latest Covid-19 travel restrictions and guidelines in every state they may be visiting or passing through. Travelers can find an interactive map with up to date information and state by state travel restrictions at TripTik.AAA.com.
Vehicle Maintenance Critical to Safe Travel
AAA is reminding all motorists that basic vehicle maintenance is critical to ensuring everyone’s safety – whether taking a road trip or a trip to the store – with the Covid crisis and limited interactions creating an additional layer of risk in the event of a breakdown.
“AAA has seen a spike in Membership in recent weeks as road trippers planning to get away look to take advantage of hotel and travel discounts but many of them will also be taking advantage of our Emergency Roadside Assistance,” Parmenter says. “Taking a little time in advance to make sure your vehicle is road ready, could save you a lot time and money along the way.”
Last summer, AAA responded to more than 80,000 calls for Emergency Roadside Assistance – just in the Greater Hartford area alone – and more than half of those calls required a tow.
AAA Summer Travel Vehicle Maintenance Checklist:
- Battery Check – have a trusted mechanic check your battery. Or, AAA members can request a AAA Roadside Service technician to come to them and test their battery free of charge at any time. Should the battery need replacement, the technician can usually replace it on location.
- Most batteries last 3-5 years and each day of extreme weather pushes a battery closer to its end.
- Tire Check - Driving on under-inflated tires can cause tires to overheat and increase the likelihood of a blowout. This problem becomes even more of a concern when road temperatures are extremely high.
- Tires should be checked when the car has not been driven recently, and they should be inflated to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer – not the number molded into the tire sidewall.
- Recommended tire pressures can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker normally located on the driver’s door jamb or the inside of the glove compartment door. Some vehicles use different pressures for the front and rear tires.
- While checking the tire pressures - including the spare - drivers also should inspect the tire treads for adequate depth and any signs of uneven wear that might indicate a suspension or alignment problem.
- Check all fluids - When fluid levels are low, the possibility of overheating increases. Drivers should check all vehicle fluids including motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid to ensure they are filled to the appropriate levels.
- If any fluids need to be topped off, be sure to use the type of fluid specified in the owner’s manual.
- Stock a Summer Emergency Kit
AAA say Summer Emergency Kit should include:
- Fully charged cellphone
- Jumper cables
- Road flares, bright triangle or emergency beacon – critical to be seen at night
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Extra water and non-perishable food/snacks
- Extra medications
AAA Tips for Safe Travel during the Covid Pandemic
When at the gas 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.
For road trips that require an overnight stay, look for hotels with a AAA Diamond designation. For extra confidence, look for Diamond hotels that display a AAA Inspector’s Best Of Housekeeping badge. Property inspections were completed prior to February. However, to meet the criteria for this award, these hotels have received top marks for housekeeping excellence for two consecutive inspections and are free of AAA member complaints.
“In light of COVID-19, AAA is revising the inspection process used in its Diamonds Program,” said Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of Travel. “The new criteria will reflect best practices for protecting the health of hotel guests, employees and AAA inspectors.”
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.
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.
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 and a trip is defined as travel of 50 miles or more. 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.
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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.