AAA anticipating record-low of Memorial Day travelers this weekend

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Travel experts at AAA are anticipating the lowest travel volume on record for the Memorial Day holiday this year as beach-goers prepare to hit the Jersey shore.

The end of the Great Recession in 2009 was the previous travel low for the holiday until now, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Jana Tidewell.

It's a stark difference from 2019 when Tidwell said AAA saw the second highest travel volume for the Memorial Day holiday weekend with more than 43 million Americans having traveled.

The crowds on Friday afternoon at Philadelphia International Airport seem to support that prediction.
"It's weird, there's not many people. Everyone's masked up, there's nothing open, it's just weird," said Rosemarie Sterner, who was traveling to Florida to visit family.

She says she feels fine with her decision to fly.

"I work in health care so I know the precautions to take and I think if everyone takes those precautions, everyone should be safe," she said.

The airport is taking extra safety precautions, including plexiglass shields at counters and social distancing stickers. Still, the airport says about 8,000 people came through the gates Friday, as compared to an average of 86,000 customers per day last year.

The rainy weather and coronavirus concerns aren't making it any easier for families in the greater-Philadelphia region wanting to spend time at the shore this weekend.

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It's new territory for everyone, including travel experts.

"For the first time in 20 years, AAA is not issuing a Memorial Day travel forecast as we typically do," Tidwell said.

But AAA is keeping track of gas prices.

"In a typical year this would be a traveler's and motorist's dream to see gas prices under $2 in many places," Tidwell said.

For those of you sticking to the roads, be sure to check your battery if your car has been sitting.
"With about 45% of our total AAA member calls being for dead batteries, those are statistics AAA doesn't see unless we have an extended cold snap," Tidwell said.

Also don't forget face coverings for the beach and inside stores.

The rules on what's allowed and required on beaches will vary up and down the shore.

As far as company on the beach, AAA expects to see people make more road trips in the future in a similar spike following the 2009 recession.

"We know that because this is happening during the summer months when so many people are out and about, that the return of the road trip will likely be the first thing we see," Tidwell said.


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