WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (May 14, 2020) – For the first time in 20 years, AAA will not issue a Memorial Day travel forecast, as the accuracy of the economic data used to create the forecast has been undermined by COVID-19. Anecdotal reports suggest fewer people will hit the road compared to years past for what is considered the unofficial start of the summer travel season.
“Last year, 43 million Americans traveled for Memorial Day Weekend – the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes in 2000,” said Sergio Avila, spokesperson, AAA Northern California. “With physical distancing guidelines still in practice, this holiday weekend’s travel volume is likely to set a record low.”
There are indications, however, that Americans’ wanderlust is inspiring them to plan future trips. AAA.com/travel online bookings have been rising, though modestly, since mid-April. When it is safe to travel, AAA Northern California expects vacationers will gravitate to road trips and family bookings to destinations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Shortly thereafter, assuming international travel restrictions are lifted, we expect to see demand for a wider range of international travel.
“The saying goes that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Americans are taking that first step toward their next journey from the comfort of their home by researching vacation opportunities and talking with travel agents,” said Avila. “We are seeing that Americans are showing a preference and inspiration to explore all that our country has to offer as soon as it is safe to travel.”
For would-be travelers, AAA offers essential information and resources to guide exploring future domestic vacations. Check these out:
- Travel Agents – knowledgeable AAA travel agents can help travelers assess their options and serve as their advocate in case any changes to travel plans are needed.
- Travel Insurance – consider purchasing travel insurance to protect vacation investments. Coverage options can vary widely so it’s important to review your options with a travel adviser. Travel insurance generally excludes epidemics, but depending on your situation, there could be travel insurance options for your needs.
- Preventative Measures – no matter where you travel, take everyday preventive measures to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your face and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using cleaning wipes or sprays.
- AAA’s Best of Housekeeping badge – look for a hotel that has earned the AAA Inspector’s Best of Housekeeping badge. While all AAA Diamond designated properties must pass a comprehensive inspection, hotels that display the Inspector’s Best of Housekeeping badge have achieved the highest possible scores for cleanliness, surpassing expectations, demonstrating housekeeping excellence for two consecutive inspections and are free of AAA member complaints. AAA is working with its industry partners to review its inspection process and standards to ensure they reflect the COVID-19 realities of today.
- Prepare Your Car – use this checklist to ensure your vehicle is ready for summer travel. This is especially important as AAA Northern California data shows battery service calls have increased 3% compared to last year. This is significant because all other calls for service have seen double digit declines during this time. AAA offers free on-the-spot battery testing while observing physical distancing guidelines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend that Americans stay home and avoid nonessential travel. Americans should heed all official warnings and refer to the latest updates from the CDC and U.S. Department of State to help decrease the spread of COVID-19.
AAA’s annual Memorial Day travel forecast will return next year. Memorial Day 2009 currently holds the record for the lowest travel volume at nearly 31 million travelers. AAA expects to make travel projections for the late summer and fall, assuming states ease travel restrictions and businesses reopen.
About AAA Northern California
AAA has a proud history of serving Members for over 100 years. AAA is on a mission to create Members for life by unleashing the innovative spirit of 4,000 employees representing 6 million Members across Northern California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. In addition to legendary roadside assistance, AAA offers home, auto and life insurance, and extraordinary travel services. According to Via Magazine’s Smart Guide, being a AAA Member can save you more than $1,200 a year. Learn more at AAA.com.