ORLANDO, Fla. — Summer travel is expected to take a 15 percent dip this year due to lingering concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic.
This summer, AAA forecasts Americans will take 700 million trips based on economic indicators and state reopenings.
That number is down nearly 15 percent 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 Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of Travel. “When they do venture out, travelers will take to the road with 683 million car trips to satisfy their wanderlust.”
Car trips reign supreme, accounting for 97 percent of the favored mode of transportation. Car trips will also see the smallest decrease in travel volume of just 3 percent year-over-year.
Air travel will be off by about 74 percent, while rail, cruise ship and bus travel will slide by 86 percent.
Were it not for the pandemic, AAA would be projecting 857 million trips during the third quarter, a 3.6 percent increase over last year. By this analysis, the pandemic wiped out nearly 150 million.
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.
With travel restrictions lifting but social distancing still recommended, it’s no surprise that 97 percent of summer trips are road trips.