Pent-up demand has Kentuckians ready for road trips: AAA survey

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/AAA) — AAA expects a significant rebound in travel this summer, as evidenced by the results of an exclusive survey of Kentuckians that reveals 62% of respondents are considering or planning to take a trip this summer.

AAA Travel is already seeing an increase in bookings that reflects the renewed enthusiasm.

That’s according to a AAA survey of 647 Kentucky residents conducted April 22-23, 2021, by Public Policy Polling. The survey margin of error is =/-3.9%.

“Optimism over the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and now the lessening of restrictions are fueling consumer confidence in travel and a strong desire to make up for lost time―the so-called “Revenge Travel” trend,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, public and government affairs manager, AAA Blue Grass. “The AAA poll shows Kentuckians have a pent-up demand for travel after coping with the pandemic’s impact in 2020.”

AAA’s poll asked Kentuckians which statement most closely reflects their feelings about traveling this summer:

  • 33% are traveling because they just need a “quick getaway”
  • 24% are planning a longer or more extravagant trip
  • 21% are choosing not to travel this summer
  • 22% are undecided, but say they may make a last minute decision to travel.

Increased interest in summer travel is also indicative that people are feeling more comfortable traveling as COVID-19 rates continue to decrease. The latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) says that fully vaccinated people can resume activities they did prior to the pandemic, including domestic travel with proper precautions, at low risk to themselves.

Despite this positive trend, AAA’s poll also revealed COVID-19 remains a factor influencing Kentuckians’ summer travel plans:

  • 24% say they still have COVID 19-related travel concerns
  • 28% have a strong desire to travel due to pandemic restrictions for the past year
  • 19% feel that their ability to be fully vaccinated is the driving force behind travel plans
  • 29% say that uncertainty about activities and attractions at their destinations is a consideration as part of the planning process

According to the same poll, 62% of Kentuckians surveyed said that when thinking about their next trip, they plan to travel only with those in their household or established COVID-19 “bubble.”

“COVID 19-related safety is still a factor for many travelers, some of whom may be venturing out for the first time in over a year,” Weaver Hawkins added.

As the AAA poll shows, views about traveling as Americans emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic are complex. Knowledge of the latest COVID 19-related restrictions and protocols will be a critical component in all planning.

“Being informed and planning in advance can make the difference between a great vacation and a travel nightmare,” said Micki Dudas, Director, Leisure Travel, for AAA Club Alliance. “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.”

According to the AAA poll, about 22% of respondents in Kentucky are planning a Memorial Day weekend getaway. Only a minority―16%―say they won’t travel due to COVID-19, with 84% indicating they’ll be staying home because they don’t usually travel Memorial Day weekend anyway.

AAA predicts that over 37 million people will once again kick off the official start of the summer holiday travel season by celebrating Memorial Day with a trip―an increase of more than 60% over last year when much of the country and the world were under COVID-19 travel restrictions, if not locked down.

  • Auto: The Great American Road Trip has been the most popular type of travel during the pandemic and has historically been the number one choice for the Memorial Day Holiday. That trend still holds true. Nationwide, AAA predicts over 34 million Americans will be taking a road trip over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The Great American Road trip continues to be the trip of choice for the majority of those surveyed in the commonwealth as well, with 47% of Kentuckians indicating they would take a trip by vehicle over the holiday weekend or the summer ahead.
  • Air: After a historically low year of air travel in 2020, this Memorial Day will see nearly 2.5 million Americans boarding airplanes, nearly six times more than last year (+577%). Still, 750,000 fewer people will take to the skies this holiday compared to 2019.
    • Travelers are reminded that some airlines may limit capacity and inflight amenities. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is also now allowing one oversized liquid container of hand sanitizer of up to 12 ounces.  Masks are required at all airports and aboard aircraft. International travelers, including U.S. citizens, must have a negative test result or proof of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding flights to the U.S.  COVID-19 testing is not required domestically, except for flights to, from and within Hawaii.
  • Other: Just 237,000 Americans across the country are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, including bus and train, this Memorial Day weekend. This is the second-lowest volume on record, higher only than the 185,000 who traveled in 2020. In 2021, travel via these modes will be 88% below 2019 levels.
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