AAA Forecasts 700 Million Trips this Summer

HYANNIS – AAA forecasts that Americans will take 700 million trips this summer, most of them by car.

Booking trends indicate that Americans are making these travel plans more spur of the moment than usual, though trips have been gradually increasing since April, according to AAA.

“The weather is better, we’re in the summer period, and kids are out of school. People are definitely feeling stir-crazy and I think if you drive around you can see quite a bit more traffic on the road compared to when everyone started to shelter in place earlier this year,” said AAA Spokesman Mark Schieldrop.

Mary Maguire, AAA Northeast Director of Public and Legislative Affairs said that travelers are taking a “wait and see” approach and are more likely to book long weekend getaways than extended vacations.

Car travel will make up the bulk of the trip, accounting for 97 percent of the favored mode of transportation.

Schieldrop said that the 700 million number is a nearly 15 percent decrease in trips compared to last year’s summer.

“That’s the first decline in summer travel that we’ll see since 2009. Our long run of increase in travel has come to an end, but 700 million people is still a lot,” said Schieldrop.

Schieldrop said that road trips will be a significant draw this summer, given the car trip numbers.

“We’re going to see a lot more people choosing to get behind the wheel and go on a road trip. So we might see a lot of traffic in places such as Cape Cod or the Berkshires, or people looking for those outdoor opportunities where they’re maybe not in close proximity with other people,” said Schieldrop.

“It’s an interesting time because of everything going on in the world. People want to get out. They want to travel and have a good summer vacation but they’re also concerned about safety. Frankly, it may not make a lot of sense for some folks to get on an airplane or to do those traditional travel destinations that they might have planned otherwise.”

Schieldrop said that the summer may still hold some economic opportunity for seasonal locations like Cape Cod.

“Human nature is pretty resilient. We are hopeful that desire for travel translates to an economic boost for those seasonal businesses. A lot of the Massachusetts economy depends on tourism, and the tourism industry has really taken a huge blow this year,” said Schieldrop.

Schieldrop said that despite the low-revenue season, there was still hope that travel may help mitigate losses in the next few months if the spread of COVID-19 continues to slow.

“If all goes well in the next few months, there may be enough people on the road to maybe make up for some of the decline that we’re seeing otherwise,” said Schieldrop.

“A lot of Massachusetts residents for example might be staying closer to home. In years past maybe they would head out west or maybe to a popular destination in Florida. Instead this year, maybe they’ll take a road trip to Cape Cod. There’s a lot of factors at play, but we’re optimistic for sure.”

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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