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Post-Pandemic: 37M People Traveling, Up 60% from Last Memorial Day



The forecast for travel on the first unofficial weekend of the 2021 summer season shows Americans are on the move again after more than a year of lockdowns because of the coronavirus pandemic. AAA Travel reports from May 27 to May 31 show more than 37 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles — a 60 percent increase from last Memorial Day holiday weekend.

“An increase of 60 percent from last year when only 23 million traveled, the lowest on record since AAA began recording in 2000,” AAA Travel reported.

And even the huge increase in travelers is still 13 percent — or nearly 6 million — fewer travelers than in 2019.

“As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and consumer confidence grows, Americans are demonstrating a strong desire to travel this Memorial Day,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said. “This pent-up demand will result in a significant increase in Memorial Day travel, which is a strong indicator for summer, though we must all remember to continue taking important safety precautions.”

AAA Travel reported on other factors taking place in this post-pandemic era in the United States:

Another factor contributing to the expected increase in travel this holiday is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recently updated guidance that fully vaccinated people can travel domestically at low risk to themselves, while taking proper precautions. It’s important to keep in mind that some local and state travel restrictions may still remain in place, however. Travelers can refer to AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map and TripTik.AAA.com for the latest information to help plan their trip.

For travelers who are not vaccinated but choose to travel, CDC recommends that you practice social distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands and get tested before and after travel. Whether you are vaccinated or not, remember masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.

AAA Travel has noted significant recent increases in online traffic and bookings on AAA.com, particularly for hotels and car rentals, heading into the summer travel season. AAA booking data reveal that domestic travel and road trips remain the biggest drivers of travel recovery in the near term. Orlando and Las Vegas are top Memorial Day destinations this year, both for AAA Travel bookings and TripTik road trip searches. 

Other top domestic destinations include Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Denver, Colorado; and Nashville, Tennessee.

The AAA Travel forecast shows automobile travel will increase 52 percent in 2021 compared to 2020. And after a historically low year of air travel in 2020 almost 2.5 million Americans are boarding airplanes this year — nearly six times more than last year or a 577 percent increase.

And, according to Gas Buddy, the cost of gasoline is also increasing to twice what it was last Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter or send news tips to [email protected]




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