ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Traveling for Labor Day weekend is expected to look pretty different because of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to AAA, 97% of all trips this summer have been by car. People planning on going away on a quick getaway are most likely getting there by driving.
AAA spokesperson Morgan Dean says most people choosing to travel will either stay within the state where they live or in that region.
Roanoke resident Kelly Crist packed up her car Thursday, Sept. 3, for a four-day camping trip with her husband at Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland. It is a trip they make every year and had planned since February.
However, Crist says she was not going to attempt to travel any farther once COVID-19 grew to its current level.
According to AAA, people took 700 million trips during summer 2020, which is down 15% from 2019.
Traveling during a pandemic is forcing Crist to change certain habits and routines.
“Making sure we have everything well in advance. Not making too many stops along the way,” she said. “Typically when camping, we always forget something and you have to go to the store. We’re literally trying to plan really well so we don’t have to do that and we can minimize those indoor interactions as much as possible.”
Dean says a lot of people are opting to take trips within driving distance from their homes.
In the Roanoke Valley area, those common places include beaches along the Virginia or North Carolina coast, or campsites at lakes like Smith Mountain Lake and the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee.
Dean also believes many people’s trips will be shorter both in distance and length, with most destinations being campgrounds or other outdoor attractions.
Jeff Todd owns Roanoke Mountain Adventures, which is an outdoor gear store.
Todd says the top three items customers have been renting or purchasing leading up to Labor Day weekend are kayaks, inner tubes, and bikes.
He believes people want to do activities where they can get outdoors, practice social distancing, and still be able to enjoy themselves.
“Right now, I think there is just a lot of demand this summer because everyone is cooped up from being inside,” Todd said. “We’ve all kind of learned that with the coronavirus, the best place to be is outside. Hopefully it’s not so much of a thing where people are afraid to go somewhere else as it is that they see the opportunity to be here and how great it is already with everything [the Roanoke area] has to offer.”
According to Dean and other AAA experts, most people are deciding to travel by car or RV this Labor Day weekend because they think it is safer for their health and are extensions of their own homes.
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