For this year's summer vacations, 97 percent will travel by car

AAA predicts a 15 percent decline in overall summer travel
Car driving

With COVID-19 in resurgence, Americans are planning significantly fewer summer trips compared to previous years.

That's according to an analysis from Minneapolis-based travel and insurance company AAA, which says that cars will be the mode of transportation for a significantly larger proportion of trips taken this summer.

The agency, which partnered with INRIX for its analysis, says based on economic indicators and state re-openings, it predicts Americans will take 700 million trips this summer, which is a 15 percent decrease from last year. It's the first time the agency has seen a decline in summer travel since 2009. 

During normal circumstances, AAA would predict 857 million summer trips, which would be a 3.6 percent increase from last year. This means that its pandemic-adjusted numbers account for 150 million fewer trips. 

For all vacations planned this summer, car travel accounts for 97 percent of favored mode of transportation. Last year, it comprised 82.3 percent of total trips taken.

Car trips are expected to decrease from last year, but only by 3 percent. The battered air industry meanwhile is expected to see travel drop by 74 percent; and cruise trip and bus travel by 86 percent, the agency said. 

Minnesota's tourism office announced similar insights last week. In a survey of 1,371 people who subscribe to Explore Minnesota's newsletter, 62.5 percent of respondents said they have tentative plans to take a summer leisure trip.

Most of these trips are likely road trips closer than 500 miles from home, with just 23 people saying their next trip would be further than that. 

"Consumers are anxious to travel, but also concerned about their safety. Travel and tourism businesses across the state are listening and have made visitors' safety a priority, implementing stringent safety protocols including increased sanitization, contactless check-in, staff wearing masks and more," said Explore Minnesota tourism director John Edman in a statement.

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