AAA: Most Floridians Changed Travel Plans Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

AAA released a survey this week looking at how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted 2020 travel plans in the Sunshine State, with 76 percent of Floridians saying it forced them to change their plans.

This is according to the results of the AAA Consumer Pulse survey on travel, conducted in late May. While about 40 percent of Florida travelers had to reschedule at least one trip this year, 39 percent say they canceled a trip with no plans to reschedule.

According to the survey:

  • 57 percent will take fewer trips as a result of the coronavirus
  • 39 percent canceled travel with no plans to reschedule this year
  • 27 percent rescheduled a trip to later this year
  • 13 percent rescheduled 2020 travel plans for 2021 or later
  • 24 percent were not affected; did not change 2020 travel plans

“The coronavirus has had a significant impact on travel this year,” said Mark Jenkins, a spokesman for AAA and the Auto Club Group. “Even as Florida reopens and travel providers implement enhanced sanitation protocols, Floridians 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, Floridians 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.

“Floridians 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 Jenkins “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, 62 percent of Floridians took a summer vacation, which did not include the Memorial and Labor Day holidays. During the same period this year, nearly half as many (33 percent) Floridians have summer travel plans.

This summer (within the next three months):

  • 35 percent of Floridians would be comfortable taking a regional road trip in their own vehicle (300 miles or less)
  • 23 percent would be comfortable staying in a hotel
  • 18 percent would fly on commercial airlines
  • >14 percent would rent a car for a road trip

The majority of travelers–76 percent–say they will follow CDC guidelines, by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask and washing hands. Two in three–67 percent–will bring cleaning supplies when traveling.

As a result of the pandemic, nearly half–48 percent–of travelers are more likely to purchase travel insurance. A quarter of travelers–25 percent–say they are more likely to use a travel agent for future travel plans.

“A travel agent is more valuable now than ever before,” Jenkins said. “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 Floridians to feel comfortable traveling:

  • 48 percent – When a vaccine is available for COVID-19
  • 41 percent – When the CDC or World Health Organization says it’s safe to travel
  • 38 percent – When COVID-19 virus cases start to decrease
  • 30 percent – When airlines are deemed to be safer or cleaner

The survey was conducted online among 401 residents living in Florida from May 20 through May 24 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent.


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