Stats: At Least 34 Million Fewer Americans to Travel This Holiday Season

AAA Travel expects the vast majority of Americans to stay home this holiday season. Public health concerns and travel guidance are influencing their decisions not to travel over the holidays, a period that typically sees high demand for vacations. While AAA expects at least 34 million fewer travelers compared to last year’s holiday season, as many as 84.5 million Americans may still travel from December 23 through January 3, a decline in travel of at least 29 percent. 

Note: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging Americans not to travel for the holidays this year, warning that travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19

According to AAA, holiday travelers are taking 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. 

Based on mid-October travel forecast models, AAA expected up to 50 million people would travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, which would have been a decline of 10 percent from 2019. While final Thanksgiving travel numbers are not yet available, AAA expects the decline to be closer to 15–20 percent.

Most Americans who decide to travel will do so by car, with road trips accounting for 96 percent of holiday travel. Up to 81 million Americans will travel by car, a decline of at least 25 percent compared to last year. 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.

As many as 2.9 million travelers are expected to book flights for the holidays, a decline of nearly 60 percent from 2019. Air travelers can likely expect to pay lower airfares this holiday season, as AAA has seen double-digit reductions in average flight costs. 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. Meanwhile, up to 480,000 Americans are expected to travel by other modes, including bus and train this holiday season, a sharp decline of 87 percent as some bus and train trips will be shifted to car travel or cancelled.

Source: AAA

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