AAA reports over 1 million Virginians expected to travel this summer

AAA says 62 percent of Virginians are planning to travel this summer.
AAA says 62 percent of Virginians are planning to travel this summer.(WHSV)
Published: May. 24, 2021 at 2:52 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - AAA released poll results Monday, revealing that 62 percent of Virginians are planning to travel this summer.

According to the press release, AAA travel is already seeing an increase in bookings that reflects a “renewed enthusiasm.”

“Optimism coinciding with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and growing consumer confidence are fueling a strong desire to travel this summer as the US takes steps toward putting the pandemic behind us,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “The AAA poll shows that Virginians have a pent-up demand for quick getaways and even longer, more extravagant trips – so-called ‘Revenge Travel.’”

Here’s a closer look at the poll results:

  • 31% feel that their travel will be driven by their need for a “quick getaway”
  • 20% are planning a longer or more extravagant trip – so called “Revenge Travel”
  • 26% are choosing to stay at home this summer
  • 23% are undecided, but say they could make a last minute decision to travel.

AAA reports that summer travel trends are also indicative that people are feeling more comfortable traveling as COVID rates are decreasing, but their poll also revealed COVID remains a factor influencing Virginians’ summer travel plans:

  • 31% say they still have COVID-related travel concerns
  • 22% have a strong desire to travel due to pandemic restrictions from the last year
  • 20% feel that their ability to be fully vaccinated is the driving force behind travel plans
  • 26% say that uncertainty about activities and attractions at their destinations is a consideration as part of the planning process

According to the same poll, in Virginia, 60% of respondents said that when thinking about their next trip, they plan to travel with only those in their household or those in their established COVID ‘bubble.’

“AAA is encouraging travelers to check and re-check requirements at all stop off points and destinations as they can change up to the last minute,” said Micki Dudas, Director, Leisure Travel, for AAA Club Alliance.

AAA expects the number of Virginians traveling over the Memorial Day holiday this year to return to 88% of those who traveled pre-pandemic, in 2019, when a record number of Virginians traveled for the holiday weekend.

According to the AAA poll, most Virginians who are staying home for Memorial Day say COVID is not the reason as they don’t usually travel for this holiday.

Their numbers also indicate that a total of just over one million (1,044,700) Virginians are predicted to once again kick off the official start of the summer holiday travel season by celebrating Memorial Day with a trip. This is an increase of more than 60% over last year when much of the country and the world was under COVID travel restrictions, if not locked down.

AAA recommends travelers to consult with a knowledgeable travel advisor to help plan their trips this Memorial Day. To learn more, click here.

AAA also reported that the national gas price average has dropped for the first time since the Colonial Pipeline shutdown, but pump prices are likely to fluctuate leading up to Memorial Day weekend.

Monday morning they reported that Virginia’s average has held steady for 10 straight days at $2.94. It’s up 24 cents over last month and $1.19 over this day one year ago.

“With the increase in travel demand, gas prices are going to be expensive no matter where you fill up, so plan ahead.  The AAA app can help to find the best price,” said AAA spokesperson Morgan Dean.

AAA adds that while the Colonial Pipeline is back in operation and deliveries are in progress, some stations in the southeast continue to experience supply strain. This is likely to extend into the holiday weekend, but motorists will be able to fill-up.

“Holiday road trippers may come across some gas stations with low fuel supply in popular travel destinations, like beaches, mountains or national parks. However, markets are not expected to be fuel-less, like we saw in the wake of the pipeline shutdown,” added Dean.

AAA offers these road trip tips for Memorial Day travelers:

  • Make a good BET before hitting the road: get your battery, engine and tires checked.
  • Consider refueling when your gas tank level hits ¼ of a tank.
  • Fill up before arriving at your vacation destination. Gas prices are likely to be cheaper outside of popular travel destinations.
  • Use your AAA app to find the closest gas station on your route. You can always call ahead to confirm their pumps are flowing.
  • Do not leave home without an emergency roadside kit. Include a mobile phone and car charger, first-aid kit, blankets, drinking water, a flashlight with extra batteries, a basic toolkit, warning flares and jumper cables. Don’t forget extra snacks or meals, as well as cleaning supplies, including disinfecting wipes.

For more on national and statewide gas prices, click here.

Copyright 2021 WHSV. All rights reserved.

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