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AAA foregoing Memorial Day forecast, predict big vacations to come

AAA predicts Americans will want to see the U.S. once restrictions lift.
Happy family on a road trip in their car.

DEARBORN, Mich. — For the first time in 20 years, AAA is not issuing a Memorial Day travel forecast. This is because the economic data they use to create that forecast has been undermined by COVID-19.

Anecdotal reports are suggesting less people will be out on the roads this Memorial Day, but because of the pandemic, travelers are planning their future trips.

“With social distancing guidelines still in practice, this holiday weekend’s travel volume is likely to set a record low,” says Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson, AAA-The Auto Club Group.

The current record for lowest travel volume on Memorial Day is from 2009. That holiday weekend was towards the end of the Great Recession. According to AAA, that year, nearly 31 million travelers hit the road.

Assuming states ease travel restrictions and businesses reopen, AAA expects to continue making travel projections for the late summer and fall.

There are also indications that Americans want to travel and are planning future vacations. AAA Online bookings have been modestly rising since mid-April, suggesting travelers are gaining more confidence. AAA is predicting that Americans will want to enjoy road trips and U.S. destinations once it's safe to do so. They also expect families will book vacations in Canada and Mexico. 

What they're expecting aligns with trends AAA was seeing before the coronavirus. A travel survey showed 90% of Americans who planned summer vacations planned to travel within the U.S. AAA travel experts say this trend is common during presidential election years, as many Americans want to stay in the United States to see how the election will affect the economy or international relations.

“The saying goes that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Americans are taking that first step toward their next journey from the comfort of their home by researching vacation opportunities and talking with travel agents,” says Woodland. “We are seeing that Americans are showing a preference and inspiration to explore all that our country has to offer as soon as it is safe to travel.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuing to recommend that Americans stay home and avoid nonessential travel.

For more information, tips and to start planning your next road trip vacation, click here.

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