MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - AAA says Americans will take roughly 700 million trips this 4th of July holiday, estimating 97 percent of those to be road trips.
This is a significantly lower number of travelers than AAA has forecast for the 4th of July in many years, but shows that many are making travel plans again during the coronavirus pandemic, just making different plans.
“Not many people will be flying to their destinations, we’re going to see mostly road trips. So the travel distances will be a little shorter than we usually see. And, you know, it’s important for people to get out and go somewhere, especially after being on lock down. A good part of the last few months was a lot of pent up demand. A lot of Cabin Fever, a lot of people that are really anxious to get out and go somewhere and so it’s still going to be really busy and if you’re going somewhere you need to be sure that you’re maintaining these these safety guidelines,” said AAA Alabama’s Clay Ingram.
The fact that people are actually traveling is a big deal since so few people traveled over the Memorial Day weekend that AAA didn’t even release a travel forecast for that holiday.
“It’s been a really different year for everybody in a lot of different ways. But travel has been one of those things that people just aren’t comfortable getting out and there have been travel bans in place and stay at home order. So it’s really really changed the travel industry quite a bit. And now that some of those restrictions have been lifted, and summertime is here, people are getting out and about a little bit,” Ingram said. “And so for Fourth of July, we’re going to see traveled down noticeably from from last year and going back a number of years honestly. And we’re expecting about a 15 percent decrease in travel through the rest of the summer compared to 2019.”
Social distancing still seems to be top of mind for travelers, especially in Alabama, who are choosing to visit more outdoor destinations.
“A lot of people headed to the beach. That’s one of the most popular destinations anyway, from year after year, so this year will be no exception. In fact, it might even be busier because of that pent up demand and cabin fever. And because people aren’t comfortable going to other places, so the beaches will be popular, the lakes around the state will be popular, state parks and national parks. You know, any any of these open air type destinations are going to be much busier than they normally are,” Ingram explained.
Gas prices may be another reason most people are choosing to drive this holiday weekend.
“We’re well below $2 a gallon right now for our state average, we have been for for a number of months now. And that’s noticeably less than than they were this time last year, probably 30-40 cents a gallon less, and I think we’re going to see that continue. I don’t think we’ll get over $2 a gallon probably throughout the rest of the year. It’ll probably creep up a little bit more during July and maybe part of August. But then when it’s time for school to start back and the summer vacations are behind us. Our demand will start to taper off as it typically does that time of year,” said Ingram.
If you're one of the millions heading out this weekend, AAA Alabama has a few "housekeeping items" to keep in mind.
“If you’re going somewhere you need to be sure that you’re maintaining these these safety guidelines. Take your gloves with you and your mask and your cleaning supplies, your sanitizer. If you’re pumping gas, be sure you don’t grab that gas handle with your bare hand use a plastic bag if you have to, or gloves if you got them are always better. But you know, just be smart about it along the way. These hotels and condominiums and places that you might be staying along the way, are doing everything they can to keep their facilities clean and sanitized but you shouldn’t rely on that completely you need to to take some steps yourself and plan ahead and take some some cleaning sanitizing items with you.”
Read AAA’s complete travel forecast for the 2020 4th of July holiday weekend here.