SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Despite health experts' warning against holiday travel while the country sees a surge in coronavirus cases, as many as 84.5 million Americans are expected to travel this season.
While the vast majority of Americans are heeding the call to stay home to help stop the spread of COVID-19, just over 25% of the U.S. is expected to travel between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3, according to AAA.
The expected number of travelers is about 34 million fewer, or 29% less, than the number of travelers during last year's holiday season.
"While Thanksgiving is traditionally spent gathering with friends and family, the year-end holidays are when Americans often venture out for longer, more elaborate vacations. That will not be the case this year," said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. "Public health concerns, official guidance not to travel, and an overall decline in consumer sentiment have encouraged the vast majority of Americans to stay home for the holidays."
The travel agency estimates about 81.1 million will travel by car, while 2.94 million travel via airline — a decline of nearly 60% from 2019's air travel. The other 480,000 are expected to travel via bus, train, or cruise, AAA says.
"Typically, cheaper gas prices are an incentive for last-minute trips, especially around the holidays. But the lower prices and less traffic aren’t driving decisions to hit the road. Americans are looking to the public health landscape, including COVID-19 case numbers, to make their travel decisions," said Jeanette Casselano McGee, AAA spokesperson.
The CDC is strongly urging families to opt for smaller celebrations this year with their own household and to connect virtually with loved ones. Anyone traveling is reminded to wear a face covering, sanitize and wash their hands, and socially distance to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
The address holiday travel, some states are requiring mandatory negative COVID-19 tests before entering, including Alaska, Colorado, Washington D.C., Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island will also accept visitors self-quarantining upon arrival.
Several other states, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, are recommending visitors self-quarantine before visiting.