The American Automobile Association (AAA) expects at least 34 million less people will travel this holiday season than last year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Public health concerns and travel guidance are influencing decisions not to travel during a time when people often take vacations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging Americans not to go anywhere for the holidays this year, warning that it could increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.
Still, AAA projects as many as 84.5 million Americans may travel from Dec. 23 through Jan. 3, a decline of at least 29%.
As for methods of travel, AAA says most Americans who do go somewhere in the next few weeks will do so by car, with road trips accounting for 96% of holiday travel. Up to 81 million Americans will travel by car, a decline of at least 25% compared to last year, according to AAA.
As has been the trend this year, far less people will fly this holiday season. AAA says as many as 2.9 million travelers are expected to book flights for the holidays, a decline of nearly 60% from 2019.
For those who do choose to travel despite the risks, it’s important to take steps that can help keep yourself and others safe.
AAA says to plan ahead by checking with state and local officials along your route and at your destination to learn about local guidance and any restrictions in place. That includes what’s expected of you when you return home. Many places require COVID-19 testing prior to and after travel.
The CDC recommends taking a COVID-19 test one to three days before travel and another three to five days after travel, in addition to reducing nonessential activities for seven days after traveling.
When packing, make sure you include face masks, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and a thermometer. It might also be a good idea to pack water and extra snacks to reduce the need to stop along your trip.
If you’re staying at a hotel, AAA recommends calling ahead to ensure it’s open and to ask what precautions are being taken to protect guests. If you’re renting a vehicle, you may want to ask about how it’s been cleaned.