About a third of Americans plan to travel for Labor Day weekend as levels bounce back close to pre-pandemic levels
According to a survey from AAA, 32% of Americans plan to travel during the holiday weekend, with 82% of them saying they will do so by automobile.
The News-Press asked Doug Shupe, Corporate Communications Manager for AAA, if more people are traveling this Labor Day weekend as opposed to last year.
“I can’t speak specifically about Labor Day, as AAA did not conduct this survey last year,” Mr. Shupe said. “However, throughout the summer what we have continued to see is an increase in travel from last year, getting very close to pre-pandemic levels.”
Asked if a drop in gas prices would have caused an increase in travel, Mr. Shupe noted that “Usually people will not be deterred by higher gas prices, historically they will continue to travel.”
“Just in time for millions of Americans to hit the road for Labor Day, the average price of gasoline is now $3.799 per gallon, the most common price is $3.499, the average of the lowest 10% is $3.16, while the median price in the U.S. is $3.65/gal,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for Gas Buddy, reported in a tweet on Thursday.
According to data from AAA, as of Saturday the national average for a gallon of gasoline is $3.79. In California, the average for a gallon of gas is $5.25. The highest recorded average price in California was $6.43 recorded on June 14. In Santa Barbara County, the average for a gallon of gas is $5.37.
“According to the survey, 66% said they traveled less this summer than they typically would, and 80% said they made cutbacks to save money, with those between the ages of 18 to 34-years-old cutting back the most,” according to a press release from AAA.
According to the survey, consumers cut back in the following areas: 44% cut back in driving, 29% in flying, 36% in going to the movies and 49% in non-grocery related shopping (such as electronics, clothes etc).
“Our survey also shows that 73% are planning at least one fall trip. Travel is predicted to remain strong throughout the fall months.After two years of lockdowns, people do want to get out there and see the world again. Travel providers are offering good deals, especially on cruises fueling people’s desire to get out there and do things again. Usually we see that the demand drops in the fall months as the kids go back to school, but there is an interest remaining in travel throughout the autumn months,” said Mr. Shupe.
“For those considering traveling this fall, book your plans now due to the pent up demand. Work with a reputable travel advisor, who can also be your advocate and make changes should you need to while you’re away. Consider travel insurance as well. We are living in a very volatile world, protect your investment,” said Mr. Shupe.
In the thirteen most southern counties of California, “the Auto Club anticipates coming to the roadside rescue of 58,788 stranded drivers from Thursday, Sept. 1 through Monday, Sept. 5,” according to the press release. Nationwide, AAA expects to receive over 545,000 calls from stranded drivers during the Labor Day weekend, according to Mr. Shupe. The top reasons for calls will be dead batteries, flat tires and getting locked out of vehicles.
“Given the heat wave, it is very important to inspect your vehicle … Travelers should top off fluid levels, as well as check tire tread and inflation before traveling. In addition, if driving in areas that may experience monsoonal rain, wiper blades should be replaced. Travelers should also check their batteries. Most batteries have a lifespan of three to five years if maintained. Make sure your battery is secured tight and cables are tight and free of corrosion. A battery that rattles won’t last as long. Additionally, pack a cellphone charger and have plenty of water for everyone in your vehicle,” advised Mr. Shupe.
“Think about safety. Before returning from a trip make sure you get at least seven hours of good sleep and make sure everyone is buckled up. Obey the speed limits. Don’t drive intexticated, don’t drive intoxicated. We want everyone to come away from this weekend with great memories and photos, not a tragedy that could have been avoided,” said Mr. Shupe.