BECKLEY, WV. (WOAY) – A new survey by AAA indicates that a large majority of West Virginia residents will not be traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, and almost a third of those staying home say it is because of COVID-19 concerns.
“Given the recent surge in COVID-19 and the strong urging of public health officials for everyone to stay home for the holiday, the Thanksgiving travel landscape continues to change,” says Jenifer Moore, AAA spokeswoman. “With that in mind, AAA conducted a new poll asking West Virginia residents who have decided against traveling for the holiday whether COVID-19, specifically, was the reason – and 34% said yes.”
The new AAA survey provides this snapshot:
- 86% of West Virginia residents surveyed will be staying home for the Thanksgiving holiday…
- 31% say they are not traveling because of COVID-19
- 69% say they were not planning to travel anyway
- 86% of West Virginia residents surveyed said they perceive traveling at this time poses a risk…
- 11% calling that risk ‘significant’
Of the survey respondents still planning to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday:
- 88% plan to drive
- 11% plan to fly
- 1% – plan to travel by some ‘other’ mode of transportation (bus, train)
The AAA survey of 954 West Virginia residents was conducted Nov. 12/13 by Public Policy Polling. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.2%.
What to Expect on the Roads
Of those who do still plan to travel, most will be driving to their holiday destinations so motorists should expect they’ll have company on the roads.
“Although Thanksgiving is typically a driving holiday, it should be noted that, since the beginning of COVID, those who have decided to travel this year have predominantly done so by car where they can have greater control over their environment and the ability to modify plans at the last minute,” Moore adds.
AAA reminds those hitting the road to plan their route ahead. To minimize the number of stops along the way, pack meals, extra snacks and drinks in addition to an emergency roadside kit – including extra masks and wipes.
For Americans who make the personal decision to travel for the holiday, it is important to know the risks involved and ways to keep yourself and others safe. In addition to CDC guidance, travelers should also be aware of local and state travel restrictions, including testing requirements and quarantine orders in the states you are traveling to, through and also upon your return.
An interactive map with the latest COVID-19 related restrictions for all states can be found at TripTik.AAA.com.
No Holiday for AAA Emergency Roadside Rescue
Despite the drop in number of people traveling for the holiday, AAA is expecting thousands of calls for Emergency Roadside Service. Last year over the Thanksgiving holiday, AAA responded to more than 200 calls for help, throughout West Virginia.
“COVID-19 adds an extra layer of complexity to all interactions, including roadside emergency calls, so this year it is more important than ever for all motorists to ensure that their vehicles are road-ready, even if they are just driving across town,” Moore adds.
Road Trippers to Be Met with Lower Gas Prices
Those who do decide to hit the road for Thanksgiving will find cheaper gas prices. On average, gas prices nationally are nearly 50 cents cheaper than this time last year, with October averages the lowest in more than 15 years.
Here in West Virginia, the average price of gas on Wednesday was $2.14, which is five cents cheaper than a month ago and 41 cents cheaper than last year at this time.
|What to Know Before You Go
What to expect if you are Flying
AAA anticipates Thanksgiving air travel will see the largest one-year decrease on record.
Several airlines have been waiving change fees for would-be Thanksgiving travelers who decide not to go at this time.
If flying, AAA reminds air travelers that in-flight amenities, including food and beverage services, may not be available. Also, as a precaution, wipe down your seat, armrest, belt buckle and tray table using disinfecting wipes.
AAA National Thanksgiving holiday forecast
Based on mid-October economic forecast models, before the newest surge in COVID cases nationwide, AAA would have expected up to 50 million Americans to travel for Thanksgiving – a drop from 55 million in 2019 – based on previous projections. However, as the holiday approaches and Americans monitor the public health landscape, the actual number of holiday travelers is expected to be lower than we have seen in years.