AAA: Expect heavy year-end travel

A strong desire to travel among those who stayed home last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been driving holiday travel volume all year, according to AAA, and the end of the year holiday travel season is no exception.

“If there is one thing we have seen at AAA throughout the year, it is pent-up demand for travel. Whether people are hitting the road for an overdue visit with friends and family, or planning a more significant getaway, there is little discouraging them,” said Cindy Russeau, AAA Retail Store Manager.

AAA does not expect concerns related to the omicron variant to significantly impact year-end travel given that newly imposed travel restrictions apply only to international travel – not domestic, leisure travel. AAA expects both the roads and the airports to be extremely busy from Dec. 23 through New Year’s Day, as they have been over most holiday weekends since the COVID-19 vaccines became widely available.

Despite news of the new variant, the CDC has not changed its guidelines, maintaining that it is safe for those who are fully vaccinated to travel and, as of today, the United States is not considering vaccine mandates or any new requirements for domestic travel.

Although the national gas price average ($3.30) has been trending downward for the better part of a month now, prices are still more than $1 more than a year ago.

Here in Ohio, gas prices have also been dropping slowly. The average price at the pump on Sunday, Dec. 19 was $3.05, down 5 cents in a week, 18 cents from a month ago but still nearly $1.04 more than last year.

AAA is not anticipating that higher gas prices will impact end of year holiday travel. “Historically, increased gas prices have not deterred motorists who have made holiday travel plans,” Russeau said. “Instead, they adjust their budgets, spending less on accommodations, eating out or other expenses.”