Editors: Sound bites from Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe on AAA Fall Travel Survey
B-Roll of vacationers using new health and safety protocols such as masks, social distancing and hand sanitizers on a AAA Member Choice Vacations tour of Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rushmore and other destinations. Credit: AAA
New AAA Travel research reveals that one-third of Western state residents and 29 percent nationwide are tentatively making overnight vacation plans through the end of the year even amid uncertainty, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. AAA TripTik search activity indicates that Los Angeles and San Diego are among the top 5 destinations for fall travel.
The vast majority of trips this fall – 80 percent -- will be road trips. In a sign of the rising popularity of auto travel this fall, use of AAA’s popular TripTik road trip planning tool has doubled compared to the spring and early summer. Not surprisingly, when they pack up their cars, more Americans are heading to destinations known for outdoor recreation and socially distanced fun than in previous years.
“We know that an increasing number of our members each month are coming to us to help them plan trips for the fall season and beyond,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “2020 has been quite a stressful year for many, and mental health research identifies travel as a form of ‘behavioral activation’ that helps reduce depression and stress. Travel providers have been working hard to incorporate health and safety protocols that protect and reassure their customers.”
Today also marks the first day that Hawaii, a major destination for Southern Californians, has reopened to tourism without a 14-day quarantine. Travelers must test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours before their flight to the Aloha State.
Because of uncertainty related to the pandemic, many travelers are waiting until the last minute to firm up their plans. One in five of those who are planning a trip, but haven’t yet finalized their reservations, are expecting to book within one week of traveling.
Top Road Trip Destinations
This fall, vacationers are showing a preference for the great American road trip and U.S. destinations that allow for socially distanced, outdoor recreation. Top destinations are:
- Denver, CO
- Las Vegas, NV
- Los Angeles, CA
- San Diego, CA
- Seattle, WA
- Keystone, SD
- Portland, OR
- Phoenix, AZ
- Colorado Springs, CO
- Myrtle Beach, SC
Data based on TripTik.AAA.com searches from June 15-Sept 14, 2020
What to Know Before You Go
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to advise that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
For those who make the personal decision to travel, AAA recommends travelers check with state and local authorities where they are, along their route, and at their planned destination to learn about local circumstances and any restrictions that may be in place. These additional tips and helpful information play an important role in being a responsible traveler:
- Check AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map as well as CDC’s COVID-19 data tracker for the latest state and local travel restrictions.
- Consistent use of face masks combined with social distancing (at least 6 feet) and regular handwashing are the best ways to lower your risk of contracting COVID-19.
- Be sure to pack face masks, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and a thermometer to help protect and monitor your health. Also pack water and extra snacks to reduce the need to stop along your trip.
- Use TripTik.AAA.com to plan your road trip and help determine which rest stops, gas stations, restaurants and hotels are open along your route. Also check out AAA.com/RoadTrips for more road trip inspiration.
- Take your car into a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop to ensure it is road trip ready. To find one near you, visit AAA.com/AutoRepair.
- Prior to any hotel stay, call ahead to ensure your hotel is open and ask what precautions they are taking to protect guests. Ask about social distancing protocols like capacity reductions in common spaces and hotel staff requirements to wear masks at all times.
- If renting a car, ask what has been done to clean the vehicle. Hertz, for example, has introduced Hertz Gold Standard Clean, an enhanced vehicle disinfectant and sanitization process. For extra peace mind, use disinfecting wipes to wipe down door handles, steering wheels, shifters and control panels. Hertz is also offering deals for road trippers this fall. Book four or more days at any Hertz neighborhood location and get one day free. Visit AAA.com/Hertz for more details.
- Consult a travel agent; they are a great resource and act as your advocate if your plans change unexpectedly. AAA travel counselors are ready to help Americans when they are ready to plan their next adventure. Visit AAA.com/Travel to get started.