AAA predicts up to 84.5 million Americans may still travel for the holidays despite warnings from health experts

National Coronavirus Coverage

(WFXR) — Even though AAA expects the majority of Americans to stay home this holiday season amid the surge in coronavirus cases across the country, tens of millions of Americans may still hit the road in the coming days.

Experts from AAA predict there will be approximately 34 million less travelers in 2020 than in 2019, but as many as 84.5 million Americans may proceed with their travel plans between Wednesday, Dec. 23, and Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021.

Most of those travelers — approximately 81.1 million of them — plan on traveling by car rather than by plane, bus, train, etc., according to AAA.

“While Thanksgiving is traditionally spent gathering with friends and family, the year-end holidays are when Americans often venture out for longer, more elaborate vacations. That will not be the case this year,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “Public health concerns, official guidance not to travel, and an overall decline in consumer sentiment have encouraged the vast majority of Americans to stay home for the holidays.”

In Virginia, experts project travel in 2020 will be the lowest it’s been in 19 years.

If you do plan on traveling for the holidays, here are some tips to keep ensure you and your family’s safety:

  • Be aware of local COVID-19 guidance and restrictions in your home state, as well as any states you may pass through on your way to your destination.
  • The CDC recommends taking a COVID-19 test one to three days before traveling and another test three to five days after traveling.
  • Wear a face mask and practice social distancing.
  • Experts suggest mapping your route and verifying your reservations ahead of time in order to minimize any last minute surprises.
  • Travelers are encouraged to hit the road either earlier or later to avoid the heavy traffic in the afternoon, as well as gas up before you go and bring extra water and snacks to reduce your need to stop mid-trip.
  • If you’re booking a hotel, call ahead to familiarize yourself with any precautions being taken.
  • If you’re renting a car, ask what kind of cleaning and sanitization process the car underwent. However, you can also bring along your own disinfecting wipes to sanitize the handles, steering wheel, gear shift, and control panel.

For those who decide to hit the road for the holidays, gas prices are almost 50 cents cheaper than this time last year, with recent monthly gas prices reported as 19% below 2019 averages, according to AAA.

GasBuddy.com says the following gas stations have the cheapest gas in the following localities:

  • Lynchburg: $1.97 at the Citgo on Rivermont Avenue
  • Roanoke: $1.99 at the Citgo on Campbell Avenue
  • Wytheville: $2.04 at the BP on Fourth Street

For more holiday road trip survival tips from AAA, click here.

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