Fewer Americans traveling.TIF

50 million Americans including one million Wisconsinites are expected to travel this week for Thanksgiving, almost 10% drop from last year. It is the largest drop off of Thanksgiving travelers since the Great Recession in 2008.

Gov. Tony Evers advised Wisconsinites to be careful during the holiday season.

“I know this upcoming holiday season is going to be especially tough,” said Governor Tony Evers. “But the actions we take now will ensure that we can celebrate together once this pandemic is over.”

In a recent speech Evers once again explained the importance of taking the pandemic seriously and celebrating safely.

“Wisconsin, this is serious,” Evers said. “The crisis is urgent. It’s not safe to go out, it’s not safe to have others over — it’s just not safe. And it might not be safe for a while yet. So please, cancel the happy hours, dinner parties, sleepovers and play dates at your home. And if a friend or family member invites you over, offer to hang out virtually instead.”

However, these figures could be even lower as Americans monitor the public health landscape, including rising COVID-19 positive case numbers, renewed quarantine restrictions and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) travel health notices.

“AAA acknowledges that the decision to travel is a personal one,” said Nick Jarmusz, Director of Public Affairs for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “The CDC says staying home is the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19. For those who still decide to travel, we urge you to take every precaution possible to protect yourself and others.”

AAA reported 56 million Americans traveled in 2019 for Thanksgiving across the country and about 1.5 million Wisconsinites. This year about 980,000 Wisconsinites are expected to travel this week for the holiday.

Most of those travelers are expected to use automobiles with less than 50,000 expected air travelers, a 50% decrease from 2019. It could be the lowest amount of air travel during the holiday since 2009.

On a positive note, gas prices are still low.

Those who decide to hit the road for the holiday will find cheaper gas prices than last year. On average, US gas prices are nearly 50 cents lower than last Thanksgiving. The national average was ($2.11) per gallon on Thursday. Thanksgiving gas prices haven’t been that low since 2015.

“Thanksgiving gas prices should remain lower than last year, but drivers shouldn’t be surprised if they inch higher in the coming weeks,” continued Jarmusz. “The fuel market is excited about the news of a possible coronavirus vaccine and the hope of an eventual return to normalcy. Crude oil and wholesale gasoline prices both increased this week, which should stop gas prices from falling much further.”

Tips for traveling during COVID-19

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 hand washing 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 like capacity reductions in common spaces, hotel staff requirements to wear masks at all times and if all amenities are available, like restaurant dining. For added peace of mind, visit AAA.com/Travel to search AAA Diamond Rated properties that earned AAA’s Best of Housekeeping Awards.

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.