TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — The holidays may look a bit different this year, with many people planning to stay home rather than travel to see family or friends as the pandemic shows no signs of letting up through the holiday season.
AAA said in a new report Monday that three-quarters of Americans are expected to stay home, and nearly 30% less travel is expected from Marylanders. They report as many as 1.76 million are still expected to travel.
Despite this drop, AAA expects at many as 84.5 million Americans may still travel from December 23 through January 3, a decline in travel of at least 29%.
Road trips will be big, with up to 1.69 million Marylanders going by car.
For those driving, gas prices remained about 34 cents cheaper than this time last year, as of December 18. In Maryland, gas prices remain about 10 cents lower than this time last year, they said.
“Typically, cheaper gas prices are an incentive for last minute trips, especially around the holidays, but the lower prices and less traffic aren’t driving decisions to hit the road this year,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Ragina Ali said. “Americans are looking to the public health landscape, including COVID-19 case numbers, to make their travel decisions.”
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“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,” she added. “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.”
Gov. Larry Hogan announced new testing and quarantine requirements and encouraged Marylanders to stay home this year. The Maryland Department of Health also added a public health advisory warning Marylanders against all non-essential activities and limiting gatherings to 10 people.
AAA reports road trips will decline, but is still the preferred way for Americans to travel. Road trips account for 96% of holiday travel, as many as 81 million Americans traveling by car.