MI Residents Cautiously Developing Holiday Season Travel Plans

The vast majority of Michigan travelers are voicing concern about traveling over the upcoming holiday season according to new survey results from AAA of Michigan.

The Auto Club says that with the holiday travel season approaching the pandemic remains a very real concern, but they also detect that confidence is growing.

The new AAA survey shows that Michigan residents are “cautiously developing plans” for the holiday travel season. A survey determined that the pandemic and presidential election are both key influencers in how comfortable people feel about traveling in the coming months.

According to the recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey, the majority of Michigan travelers — 78-percent — are concerned about traveling this holiday season, due to the pandemic. However, confidence is improving. Almost half — 45-percent — of Michigan residents say they are more comfortable traveling now, compared to earlier this year when the pandemic began.

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One-in-five Michigan residents (21-percent) plan to travel this holiday season. Although that’s half as many as last year, one in seven (14-percent) have yet to decide if they will take a trip.

Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson for AAA – The Auto Club Group — says, “While many will prefer to stay home this holiday season, some Michigan residents are more willing to travel than they were earlier this year,” and adds, “Whether that confidence is based on more education about COVID-19 or simply a need to get out, AAA urges all travelers to follow the safety advice of the CDC and work with a trusted travel advisor.”

PREFERRED MODES OF TRANSPORTATION

Automobile

The majority of Michigan residents (72-percent) say they are most comfortable traveling in their personal vehicle. This mode of transportation provides more personal control over cleanliness and social distancing. Auto travel tends to be more affordable due to lower gas prices, and allows drivers to be more flexible with the timing of their trip.

Air Travel

More than half of Michigan residents (61-percent) are still uncomfortable taking a commercial flight. However, the risk of contracting the virus on an airplane is minimal, according to a new study from the Department of Defense. The study determined that face coverings and airplanes’ air filtration systems dramatically reduce the amount of hazardous particles in the air. Airlines are taking steps to help travelers understand safety protocols, which include keeping the middle seat open on some airlines, including Delta. Travelers can consult with a AAA Travel Advisor to talk through available options and what to expect during their trip.

When do Michiganders Typically Book Holiday Travel?

  • 12-percent – Before September
  • 8-percent – September
  • 17-percent – October
  • 24-percent – November
  • 18-percent – December

Woodland says, “This year, travelers are juggling more decisions than usual in making holiday plans,” and reminds travelers that “AAA Travel Advisors are ready to help travelers sort through their options and make informed choices.”

Hotel or Air BNB

Travelers have mixed feelings about hotels, resorts and Air BnBs, due to the pandemic. Fewer than half of travelers say they feel comfortable staying in a hotel or resort. Yet if given the choice, twice as many people would prefer a hotel/resort over an Air BnB or rental home. AAA’s Diamond Ratings and Best of Housekeeping Awards can help travelers choose hotels that best meet their needs.

Virtual Work and School Encourage Travel

As many Americans continue to work from home and attend school virtually, this temporary lifestyle change opens up new and exciting possibilities for fall travel – particularly for those who deferred summer travel plans.

Almost half of Michiganders (47-percent), with access to virtual work or school, say they are more likely to travel this fall due to the flexibility of these virtual options. The majority of these respondents (71-percent) say they work from home more often, due to the pandemic. A quarter (25-percent) have someone in the household who has attended virtual school.

Presidential Election

Pandemic aside, almost a fifth (18-percent) of Michiganders say they have postponed travel plans due to the presidential election.

The primary reasons:

  • Safety concerns (50-percent)
  • Impacts on the economy (38-percent)
  • Political unrest (32-percent)
  • In town to vote (28-percent)

AAA Travel Tips and Resources

  • Review travel restrictions. Check AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map as well as CDC’s COVID-19 data tracker for the latest state and local travel restrictions.
  • Plan your road trip. You can use http://TripTik.AAA.com to plan your road trip and help determine which rest stops, gas stations, restaurants and hotels are open along your route. Also check out http://AAA.com/RoadTrips for more road trip inspiration.
  • Prepare your vehicle. Take your car into an approved auto repair shop to ensure it is road trip ready.
  • Consult a travel agent. They are a great resource and act as your advocate if your plans change unexpectedly. AAA Travel Advisors are ready to help Americans when they are ready to plan their next adventure. Visit AAA.com/Travel to get started.
  • Hotels – Prior to any hotel stay, call ahead to ensure your hotel is open and ask what precautions they are taking to protect guests. Ask about social distancing protocols like capacity reductions in common spaces and hotel staff requirements to wear masks at all times. AAA’s Best of Housekeeping highlights AAA Diamond designated hotels that are recognized for implementing the highest cleaning standards.
  • Car Rentals – If renting a car, ask what has been done to clean the vehicle. Hertz, for example, has introduced Hertz Gold Standard Clean, an enhanced vehicle disinfectant and sanitization process. For extra peace of mind, use disinfecting wipes to wipe down door handles, steering wheels, shifters and control panels.

The AAA Consumer Pulse Survey was conducted online among residents living in Michigan from October 1 – 15, 2020. A total of 402 residents completed the survey. Survey results asked of all respondents have a maximum margin of error of ± 4.9-percentage points.  Responses are weighted by age and gender to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult population (18+) in Michigan.

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 14 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more.