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AAA Predicts Lowest VA Holiday Travel Numbers in Decades

Airport security line
With the COVID-19 pandemic putting a damper on people's holiday travel plans, airports are expected to be far emptier this year than usual. (Photo: Matthew Turner)

*Joi Bass reported this story

Many fewer people are travelling for the holidays this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In their Thanksgiving travel survey last month, AAA Club Alliance reported 84% of Virginians were staying home for the holiday. Many said this was due to pandemic concerns. 

Still, the TSA reported screening more than 1 million passengers nationally on Thanksgiving Eve.

Morgan Dean is a senior specialist of public and government affairs for AAA Club Alliance in Virginia. He says  while p re-Christmas air travel this past weekend surpassed the Thanksgiving numbers, his organization is forecasting upcoming holiday travel across Virginia to be at its lowest in 19 years. 

“Seventy-five percent of Americans are telling us they’re staying home this year.”

Dean says survey respondents said their main reason was COVID-19. And he adds, while the numbers are expected to be low, there will still be travel, though mostly by car. 

“People have seen their vehicles as an extension of their home,” Dean said. “They can control the cleanliness. They can store all the items that they need with them, the hand sanitizer, the masks, things like that.” 

To avoid exposure while travelling, Dean said people, “might pack a little extra food, a little extra water instead of stopping somewhere along the route to eat or do something else.” 

Dean says planning ahead is important. And, he pointed to AAA resources like TripTik to assist. 

“It has a map there that shows you what the COVID restrictions and requirements are for those areas,” Dean said. 

Dean says TripTik can also inform travelers if their destination requires them to have a COVID-19 test before they arrive or if they will have to submit proof of having been tested within the last few days. But, Dean adds, AAA is not providing travel advice. 

AAA’s forecast looked at how the public is feeling about travel in 2020 as compared with previous years, Dean says. But while the survey is an economic forecast based on real data, it is hard to know -- for sure -- what will happen.

“This is a year where it’s very hard to predict anything,” Dean said. “This has been a year where people have made a lot of last minute decisions.” 

Here are some helpful resources:
Triple A’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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