24 June 2020

MADISON, Wis., (June 24, 2020) – New research from AAA shows the coronavirus has impacted 2020 travel plans for 73 percent of Wisconsinites. This is according to an AAA Consumer PulseTM   survey conducted in late May. While about 38 percent of Wisconsinites travelers had to reschedule at least one trip this year, another 38 percent say they cancelled a trip with no plans to reschedule.

According to the survey:

  • 46% will take fewer trips as a result of the coronavirus
  • 38% cancelled travel with no plans to reschedule this year
  • 24% rescheduled a trip to later this year
  • 14% rescheduled 2020 travel plans for 2021 or later
  • 27% were not affected; did not change 2020 travel plans

“The coronavirus has had a significant impact on travel this year,” said Nick Jarmusz, Director of Public Affairs for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Even as Wisconsin reopens and travel providers implement enhanced sanitation protocols, Wisconsinites 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, Wisconsinites 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.

“Wisconsinites who are interested in traveling this summer are more likely to explore their own backyard, by traveling closer to home - due to the threat of the coronavirus,” said Jarmusz “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, 67 percent of Wisconsin residents took a summer vacation, which did not include the Memorial and Labor Day holidays. During the same period this year, only 29% Wisconsinites have summer travel plans.

This summer (within next 3 months):

  • 51% of Wisconsinites would be comfortable taking a regional road trip in their own vehicle (300 miles or less)
  • 29% would be comfortable staying in a hotel
  • 20% would fly on commercial airlines
  • 22% would rent a car for a road trip

Hotel Tips:

  • 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 (72%) say they will follow CDC guidelines, by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask and washing hands. Three in five (60%) will bring cleaning supplies when traveling. 

As a result of the pandemic, 42% of travelers are more likely to purchase travel insurance. A fifth of travelers (20%) say they are more likely to use a travel agent for future travel plans.

“A travel agent is more valuable now than ever before,” Jarmusz 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 Wisconsinites to feel comfortable traveling:

  • 48% - When a vaccine is available for COVID-19
  • 39% - When the CDC or World Health Organization says it’s safe to travel
  • 39% - When COVID-19 virus cases start to decrease
  • 27% - When airlines are deemed to be safer or cleaner
  • 26% - When stay-at-home orders are lifted

 

About the AAA Consumer Pulse™ Survey

The AAA Consumer Pulse™ Survey was conducted online among 401 residents living in Wisconsin from May 20 – May 24, 2020.  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 Wisconsin.