These “unprecedented times” of coronavirus have spawned yet another consequence never before seen.
AAA, one of the nation’s leading auto clubs, will not forecast Memorial Day travel this year, except to say a “record low” is expected.
Travel on the Memorial Day Weekend, typically robust because it is seen as tan informal start to summer, is certain to trough this year.
But the plummet can’t be quantified, beyond noting that it’s never been worse than in 2020.
“Last year, 43 million Americans traveled for Memorial Day Weekend – the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes in 2000,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel.
“With social distancing guidelines still in practice, this holiday weekend’s travel volume is likely to set a record low.”
The current low-water mark, Memorial Day 2009, was likewise in the grips of a devastating economic downturn.
Just 31 million traveled on that weekend, 26.4 million by car. The rest traveled by planes, trains, and cruise ships.
While plane and train traffic is certain to be lower, we know cruise ship travel will be non-existent. However, a patchwork quilt of economic and movement restrictions coupled with a collapsed job market likely will have spillover effects on vehicular traffic also.
The federal government is so confident that roads won’t see a typical year’s traffic that messaging from Washington D.C. has stressed the importance of accelerating road projects, as Florida started with certain ones during the height of Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ “stay-at-home” orders.
Though the near term is bleak, AAA expects travelers to indulge in what it whimsically labels “wanderlust.”
“AAA expects to make travel projections for the late summer and fall, assuming states ease travel restrictions and businesses reopen. Already, there are indications that Americans’ wanderlust is inspiring them to plan future vacations.”
Those vacations are expected to be closer to home than otherwise may be the case, variations on the theme of the so-called “Great American Road Trip.”