TAMPA — New research from AAA shows the coronavirus has impacted 2020 travel plans for 76% of Floridians. This is according to the results of the AAA Consumer Pulse survey on travel, conducted in late May. While about 40% of Florida travelers had to reschedule at least one trip this year, 39% say they canceled a trip with no plans to reschedule.
According to the survey:
• 57% will take fewer trips as a result of the coronavirus;
• 39% canceled travel with no plans to reschedule this year;
• 27% rescheduled a trip to later this year;
• 13% rescheduled 2020 travel plans for 2021 or later;
• 24% were not affected; did not change 2020 travel plans.
“The coronavirus has had a significant impact on travel this year,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Even as Florida reopens and travel providers implement enhanced sanitation protocols, Floridians are mixed on how soon they’d be willing to take a road trip, a flight, or simply stay in a hotel. The majority say it will take some time before they feel comfortable traveling like they used to. Until then, Floridians will take fewer trips than normal, and take extra precautions to avoid contracting the virus.”
Summer travel plans
The 2020 summer travel season looks quite different than in years passed. Travel restrictions limit international travel opportunities, and some states require travelers to quarantine. Additionally, the CDC urges travelers to wear face coverings while in public, and to practice social distancing. Due to the limited ability to social distance, the CDC lists airports, bus stations, train stations and rest stops as places travelers can be exposed to the virus.
“Floridians who are interested in traveling this summer are more likely to explore their own back yard, by traveling closer to home — due to the threat of the coronavirus,” said Mr. Jenkins.“This means more people opting to take a road trip, instead of a flight, to avoid being in close quarters with strangers. The added value in driving is that summertime gas prices are the lowest in 15 years.”
Last year, 62% of Floridians took a summer vacation, which did not include the Memorial and Labor Day holidays. During the same period this year, nearly half as many (33%) Floridians have summer travel plans.
This summer (within next three months):
• 35% of Floridians would be comfortable taking a regional road trip in their own vehicle (300 miles or less).
• 23% would be comfortable staying in a hotel.
• Understand the cancellation policy associated with the rate you book. AAA.com offers rates that include the option to cancel, should your plans change.
• Know whether the hotel’s amenities are closed or otherwise affected by the pandemic.
• Understand the hotel’s cleaning procedures, which are being enhanced by many chains.
• Bring your own cleaning supplies for additional peace of mind and to sanitize high-touch areas like the remote control, phone, door handles, faucets, etc.
Air travel tips:
• Bring a mask and sanitizer.
• Wash your hands frequently.
• Consider packing a meal or snacks that would not violate TSA rules.
• Practice social distancing when you can while in the airport and elsewhere.
• Minimize personal encounters by managing aspects of your trip online like checking in.
• Know whether your destination or your activities will require you to quarantine when you return home.
• Understand your airline’s policies when you book.
The majority of travelers (76%) say they will follow CDC guidelines, by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask and washing hands. Two in three (67%) will bring cleaning supplies when traveling.
As a result of the pandemic, nearly half (48%) of travelers are more likely to purchase travel insurance. A quarter of travelers (25%) say they are more likely to use a travel agent for future travel plans.
“A travel agent is more valuable now than ever before,” Mr. Jenkins continued. “They can help identify whether any travel restrictions will impact your trip, help you make an informed decision and ensure you fully understand your rights in case you need to cancel or reschedule.”
What would make travelers more comfortable?
Top five things that would need to happen in order for Floridians to feel comfortable traveling:
• 48% – When a vaccine is available for COVID-19;
• 41% – When the CDC or World Health Organization says it’s safe to travel;
• 38% – When COVID-19 virus cases start to decrease;
• 30% – When airlines are deemed to be safer or cleaner.
About the AAA Consumer Pulse Survey
The AAA Consumer Pulse Survey was conducted online among 401 residents living in Florida from May 20 to May 24. Results asked of all respondents have a maximum margin of error of ± 4.9 percentage points. Responses are weighted by gender and age to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult population (18+) in Florida.
About AAA – The Auto Club Group:
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 14 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 60 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.