AAA: People Planning Fall Journey With Cautious Optimism

The survey found that four out of five trips are on the road and one in five is decided at the last minute.

American travelers are making vacation plans through the end of the year, but remain cautiously optimistic about those future plans, according to a recent AAA travel survey. 67 percent of adults in the US who plan to vacation before the end of the year say they are actually able to take their vacation.

As a result, some choose to make spontaneous travel decisions as they consider the effects of the coronavirus. According to the AAA survey, one in five people planning a trip before the end of this year but has not yet booked expects to do so within a week of starting the trip. AAA advises these travelers to take reasonable precautions to protect themselves and others from home.

The vast majority of trips this fall – 80% – will be road trips. Considering the increasing popularity of car trips this fall, use of AAA’s popular TripTik road trip planning tool has doubled compared to spring and early summer. Unsurprisingly, when packing their cars, more Americans are heading to destinations known for outdoor recreation and socially distant fun than in previous years.

“As many Americans continue to work from home and go to virtual school, this temporary lifestyle change opens up new and exciting opportunities for fall travel – especially for those who have postponed summer travel plans,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “For those who choose to travel, the great American road trip is still the preferred way to see the US. AAA advises these travelers to plan ahead and take precautions to be a responsible traveler. “

Lower prices at the gas pump could also motivate some potential travelers to hit the streets this fall. On average, domestic gas prices are almost 50 cents cheaper than at this time last year and the cheapest case prices since 2016.

Top road trip destinations

This fall, vacationers prefer the great American road trip and travel destinations that allow socially distant outdoor recreation. New to the list of top road trip destinations this year are Keystone, South Dakota – home of Mount Rushmore – and Colorado Springs. The data is based on searches made by from June 15 to September 14, 2020.

  1. Denver, CO
  2. Las Vegas, NV
  3. Los Angeles, California
  4. San Diego, CA.
  5. Seattle, WA
  6. Trapezoid, SD
  7. Portland, OR
  8. Phoenix, AZ
  9. Colorado Springs, CO
  10. Myrtle Beach, SC

“Trips that enable people to use nature are particularly attractive this fall. From hiking and exploring state and national parks to outdoor beaches and gardens, all of these top road trip destinations offer activities that allow families to enjoy the American backyard in their own comfort, ”continued Twidale.

What you need to know before you go

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to advise that staying at home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

For those making the personal decision to travel, AAA recommends that travelers check with state and local authorities about where they are on their route and planned destination to learn about local circumstances and any restrictions . These additional tips and helpful information play an important role as a responsible traveler:

  • Check AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Card and CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker for the latest state and local travel restrictions.
  • Consistent use of face masks combined with social distancing (at least 6 feet) and regular hand washing are the best ways to reduce your risk of COVID-19 infection.
  • Be sure to pack face masks, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and a thermometer to protect and monitor your health. Also, pack water and extra snacks to reduce the need to stop on your trip.
  • Use to plan your road trip and see which rest stops, gas stations, restaurants, and hotels are open along your route. You can also find more inspiration for road trips at
  • Take your car to an AAA approved auto repair shop to make sure it’s ready for the road trip. To find one near you, visit
  • Before each hotel stay, call ahead to make sure your hotel is open and ask what precautions they are taking to protect guests. Ask about social distancing protocols such as capacity reductions in common areas and hotel staff requirements to wear masks at all times.
  • When renting a car, ask what was done to clean the vehicle. Hertz, for example, introduced Hertz Gold Standard Clean, an improved method for disinfecting and disinfecting vehicles. Use disinfectant wipes to wipe door handles, steering wheels, gear levers, and control panels. This autumn, Hertz is also offering offers for road drivers. Book four or more days anywhere in Hertz and get one day free. Visit for more details.
  • Contact a travel agent. They are a great resource and act as your advocate if your plans change unexpectedly. AAA Travel Consultants are ready to help Americans when they’re ready to plan their next adventure. Visit to get started.

AAA continues to monitor travel trends and will publish a traditional Thanksgiving holiday forecast in November. More information is available at

Survey methodology

The survey results are the result of a probability-based panel that is intended to be representative of the US household population as a whole. The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97% of the US household population. Most of the surveys were completed online. Consumers without internet access were interviewed by telephone. A total of 1,041 interviews were conducted with adults in the United States aged 18 and over. The overall error rate for the study is 3.9% with a confidence level of 95%.

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