AAA Forecasts Americans Will Take Nearly 700M Road Trips This Summer
ORLANDO, Fla. — Americans are eager to hit the road as restrictions ease in time for summer travel; however, the number of trips this season are expected to be down vs. 2019.
AAA forecasts Americans will take 700 million trips based on economic indicators and state re-openings. That number is down nearly 15 percent compared to last July through September, and is the first decline in summer travel since 2009.
The association's booking trends show Americans are making travel plans, though cautiously and more spur of the moment.
"Americans will get out and explore this summer though they're taking a 'wait and see approach' when it comes to booking and are likely to book more long weekend getaways than extended vacations," said Paula Twidale, AAA's senior vice president of travel. "When they do venture out, travelers will take to the road with 683 million car trips to satisfy their wanderlust."
When Americans do travel, car trips will account for 97 percent of the favored mode of transportation. Car trips will also see the smallest dip in travel volume, just 3 percent year over year, according to AAA.
As for other modes of transportation, air travel will be down about 74 percent, while rail, cruise ship and bus travel will decrease by 86 percent.
Were it not for the pandemic, AAA would be projecting 857 million trips during the third quarter, a 3.6-percent increase over 2019. By this analysis, the pandemic wiped out nearly 150 million person-trips this summer, the association said.
AAA travel experts have begun to see positive trends in travel, noting that hotel and rental car bookings have been gradually increasing since April. Air travel has been slower to rebound. The share of travelers making plans 48 hours to seven days before departure — a sign that people are arranging last-minute trips — is significantly higher than normal.
When it comes to AAA TripTik destination searches, prominent cities that typically draw large crowds are not as popular. Orlando has dropped from the top searched city destination to number eight while Denver makes the biggest climb from number 10 to number one.
The top cities, according to date based on TripTik.AAA.com searches from March 15 June 14, are:
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- Portland, Ore.
- Myrtle Beach, S.C.
- San Diego
- Nashville, Tenn.
As for possible pain at the pump, AAA expects the national gas price to average near $2.25 per gallon for the third quarter of 2020, which will be a 15-percent decline from the $2.66 average seen last summer. This will be the cheapest summer for filling-up since 2016.