An overwhelming majority of Americans may be trading the Memorial Day trip to the cabin and dip in the lake for a backyard barbecue and a splash in the pool.
A recent Harris Poll found that 95% of Americans say they will not travel over the three-day Memorial Day weekend, which is often viewed as the unofficial kickoff of the summer travel season. That goes hand in hand with predictions from AAA, which said that travel volume this year could plunge to a record low.
Last year 43 million people traveled over the Memorial Day weekend, which was the second-highest level for the late-May holiday since AAA started making travel projections 20 years ago. This year, the motoring club is skipping predictions for Memorial Day, saying "the accuracy of the economic data used to create the forecast has been undermined by COVID-19."
Memorial Day 2009 set the record for the lowest travel volume at nearly 31 million travelers, according to Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. That came right after the Great Recession of 2008.
That mark could easily be smashed this year, Twidale said, as indications are that far fewer people will hit the road compared with years past.
"This holiday weekend's travel volume is likely to set a record low," she said.
More than half those responding to the Harris Poll conducted May 5 to 8 cited the risk of getting sick as the reason for staying home. Others cited fears of being quarantined upon arrival, financial stress and pressure from friends and family to avoid nonessential travel.
AAA said it expects to resume making travel projections for late summer and fall, assuming states ease travel restrictions and businesses reopen.
The organization said online bookings for later this summer have been rising since mid-April, though modestly, suggesting travelers' confidence is slowly increasing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend that Americans stay home and avoid nonessential travel.