Meredith Terpstra, the spokeswoman for AAA-Iowa, says with the pandemic still the primary concern, some 34 million fewer people will be traveling during the 12-day period between December 23rd and January 3rd.
“We’re actually expecting three-quarters of Americans to stay home, which is a huge number,” Terpstra says. “As everyone is aware, it’s a very personal decision if you are going to travel, especially with COVID happening.”
The travel forecast is down 29% and it marks the first drop in year-end holiday travel since 2008, with the lowest expected travel volume since 2002. With so many travel restrictions between states and most other countries, there aren’t many places for Iowans to visit. Terpstra says most people who do plan to travel are heading to see family, not going on a pleasure vacation, while the stay-cation appears to be the wisest and most popular option.
Terpstra says, “Most people are making the decision to just stay home this year and celebrate with their own personal families who are in their households and Zooming in, video calling and even making normal phone calls to family members instead of seeing them in person this year.”
With demand for gasoline down, gas prices are following suit. “Our current average in Iowa this year is $2.07 compared to a year ago at $2.34,” Terpstra says. “Nationwide, we’re thinking that the gas prices are going to remain nearly 50-cents cheaper than last year.”
For those who plan to travel, she says it’s important to understand the risks and take steps to keep yourself and others safe. The CDC urges Americans not to travel for the holidays this year, warning that travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.