Thanksgiving masks (copy)

A survey by AAA indicates 86 percent of Delawareans planned not to travel for Thanksgiving, with nearly half of them saying that was due to COVID-19 concerns. For those traveling, AAA had some suggestions for adapting to pandemic conditions.

A new survey by AAA indicates that a large majority of Delaware residents will not be traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, and close to 50 percent of those staying home said it is because of COVID-19 concerns.

“Given the recent surge in COVID-19 and the strong urging of public health officials for everyone to stay home for the holiday, the Thanksgiving travel landscape continues to change,” said Ken Grant, public and government affairs manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “With that in mind, AAA conducted a new poll asking Delaware residents who have decided against traveling for the holiday whether COVID-19, specifically, was the reason — and almost 50 percent said yes.”

The new AAA survey provides this snapshot for Delaware:

  • 86 percent are NOT traveling for the holiday — 49 percent not traveling because of COVID; 51 percent said they were not planning to travel anyway.
  • 86 percent perceive travel during COVID as a risk — with 39 percent saying they perceive it as a ‘significant’ risk.
  • Of the survey respondents still planning to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday:
    · 78 percent planned to drive;
    · 19 percent planned to fly;
    · 3 percent planned to travel by some other mode of transportation (bus, train).

The AAA survey of 683 Delaware drivers was conducted Nov. 12/13 by Public Policy Polling. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percent.

In Maryland:

  • 89 percent are not traveling for the holiday — 50 percent not traveling because of COVID, and 50 percent said they were not planning to travel anyway.
  • Of those traveling, 79 percent were driving, 14 percent flying, 7 percent using another mode.
  • 90 percent perceive travel during COVID as a risk — with 43 percent saying they perceive it to be a ‘significant’ risk.

In Pennsylvania:

  • 83 percent are not traveling for the holiday — 40 percent not traveling because of COVID; 60 percent said they were not planning to travel anyway.
  • Of those traveling, 90 percent were driving, 8 percent flying, 2 percent using another mode.
  • 83 percent perceive travel during COVID as a risk — with 35 percent saying they perceive it to be a “significant” risk.

What to expect on the roads

Of those who do still plan to travel, most will be driving to their holiday destinations, so motorists should expect they’ll have company on the roads, Grant said.

“Although Thanksgiving is typically a driving holiday, it should be noted that, since the beginning of COVID, those who have decided to travel this year have predominantly done so by car, where they can have greater control over their environment and the ability to modify plans at the last minute,” Grant added.

AAA reminded those hitting the road to plan their route ahead. To minimize the number of stops along the way, they advised, travelers should pack meals, extra snacks and drinks, in addition to an emergency roadside kit — including extra masks and wipes.

“For Americans who make the personal decision to travel for the holiday, it is important to know the risks involved and ways to keep yourself and others safe. In addition to CDC guidance, travelers should also be aware of local and state travel restrictions, including testing requirements and quarantine orders in the states you are traveling to, through and also upon your return.”

An interactive map with the latest COVID-19 related restrictions for all states can be found at TripTik.AAA.com.

No holiday for AAA Emergency Roadside Rescue

Despite the drop in number of people traveling for the holiday, AAA is expecting thousands of calls for Emergency Roadside Service. Last year over the Thanksgiving holiday, AAA responded to almost 900 calls for help in Delaware.

“COVID-19 adds an extra layer of complexity to all interactions, including roadside emergency calls, so this year it is more important than ever for all motorists to ensure that their vehicles are road-ready, even if they are just driving across town,” Grant added.

Road trippers to be met with lower gas prices

Those who do decide to hit the road for Thanksgiving will find cheaper gas prices. On average, gas prices nationally are nearly 50 cents cheaper than this time last year, with October averages the lowest in more than 15 years.

What to know before you go

  • Plan ahead. Check with state and local authorities where you are, along your route, and at your planned destination to learn about local circumstances and any restrictions that may be in place.
  • Follow public health guidance. 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.
  • Verify before you go. Call ahead to minimize any last-minute surprises.
    · Hotels — 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, such as capacity reductions in common spaces, hotel staff requirements to wear masks at all times and if all amenities are available, such as restaurant dining.
    · Car rentals — 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 of mind, use disinfecting wipes to wipe down door handles, steering wheels, shifters and control panels.
  • Helpful AAA resources. Visit AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map for the latest state and local travel restrictions. 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.

What to expect if you are flying

AAA anticipates Thanksgiving air travel will see the largest one-year decrease on record.

Several airlines have been waiving change fees for would-be Thanksgiving travelers who decide not to go at this time.

AAA reminded air travelers that in-flight amenities, including food and beverage services, may not be available. Also, as a precaution, wipe down your seat, armrest, belt buckle and tray table using disinfecting wipes, they advised.

AAA National Thanksgiving holiday forecast

Based on mid-October economic forecast models, before the newest surge in COVID cases nationwide, AAA would have expected up to 50 million Americans to travel for Thanksgiving — a drop from 55 million in 2019 — based on previous projections. However, as the holiday approaches and Americans monitor the public health landscape, the actual number of holiday travelers is expected to be lower than has been seen in years.