Troubled People are planning highway journeys regardless of their issues
Americans fly less and it looks like their vacation plans are still in the air.
Almost 7 in 10, or 67%, who want to go on vacation by the end of the year aren’t sure they can actually travel, and one in five expects to book at the last minute within a week of departure.
This is according to a recent AAA survey of travelers’ attitudes towards travel restrictions during the pandemic era. The survey found that 80% of the planned vacations will be road trips.
“Road trips have been the most popular because consumers can create their own experiences and take the necessary precautions, prepare for travel, limit contact and experience the great outdoors,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of travel, AAA. AAA reports that the use of the online tool for planning TripTik road trips has doubled compared to spring and early summer.
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On the reasons why Americans are still booking vacations despite mounting uncertainty about resurgent coronavirus infection rates and interstate traveler regulations, Twidale said, “The backlog from months of quarantine is a major motivation for travelers to hit the road. “
Travel providers do their best to attract and calm even cautious travelers. “Many hotels, tour operators and cruise lines offer flexible terms to encourage customers to make a booking decision,” she added. “Insurance increases consumer confidence and security.”
Still, travelers secure their bets by often waiting until the last minute to book. “AAA sees trends like bookings within 48 hours or up to seven days, which was rare in pre-pandemic times,” noted Twidale.
Where the road drivers go
Downtown Denver, the Flatirons and Longs Peak in Colorado. Denver is AAA’s primary travel destination through the end of the year.
Brad McGinley Photography | Moment | Getty Images
According to the AAA, lower prices on the pump are also driving interest in road trips. Nationwide, gasoline costs almost 50 cents less per gallon than last year, the lowest autumn prices since 2016.
Where on the map are the drivers hoping to go? Domestic destinations that enable socially distant outdoor recreation, Twidale said. Here are the top 10 places the AAA travelers searched for on TripTik.AAA.com from June 14th to September 14th:
- Las Vegas
- The angel
- San Diego
- Keystone, South Dakota
- Portland, Oregon
- Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Whether in the city or in the country, these locations tend to be scenic and offer plenty of open space that is perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, bird watching, rafting, and tubing, Twidale said. Natural landmarks like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and even Mount Rushmore in Keystone are also popular.
People want to work and travel at the same time, so many trips are longer stays.
Managing Director Americas at Guesty
“In coastal areas like California or even Myrtle Beach, travelers can enjoy the ocean air, boating, fishing, and strolling along the beach to get excited rather than be home-based,” Twidale said.
The last bit becomes more important as many Americans who work from home book longer work vacations. The high-end vacation club Exclusive Resorts, based in Denver, recorded five times the number of member reservations for stays of at least 14 days in December compared to the previous year and, according to a spokesman. (The club’s average total stay of 5.2 days corresponds to an annual jump in duration of 30%.)
AAA is following a related trend called “bleisure,” which began before the pandemic, Twidale said.
Maskot | Maskot | Getty Images
Business travelers are increasingly using vacation time for business travel, she explained. “With the ability to work remotely using technology, a hybrid version of it may remain for some workers after the pandemic,” she said.
Omer Rabin, managing director of Americas at Guesty, said customers of the vacation property management software firm say that the three-day weekend escape is “dead”.
“People want to work and travel at the same time, so many trips are long stays,” he said. “A weekend becomes a week and people go on Wednesday and come back on Tuesday because you can work anywhere.”
– Correction: This story has been updated to take into account that, according to the AAA, nearly 7 out of 10, or 67% of Americans surveyed, are not sure they can take a planned trip by the end of the year.