WAYNE, N.J., — AAA projects Americans will take 700 million trips this summer, down nearly 15 percent compared to last year. This is the first summer travel decline since 2009. Reservations made through AAA travel show a tendency to make last minute plans, cautiously.

“The spur-of-the-moment long weekend trip is proving more popular than extended vacations, with the vast majority – 683 million – traveling by car,” said Robert Sinclair, Jr., Manager of Media Relations for AAA Northeast.

Convenience and cheap gasoline have car trips accounting for 97 percent of summer travel; usually it’s 87 percent. The drop-off in other forms of travel is staggering. Air will be 74 percent lower, while rail, cruise and bus travel will be down by 86 percent. AAA estimates that the pandemic has wiped out nearly 150 million trips this summer.

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Some positive trends in travel have emerged with a gradual increase in hotel and rental car reservations since April, but those making plans two to seven days before departure, are significantly higher than normal, indicating a lot of last-minute trips.

The COVID crisis has led to a major shift in favorite destinations for travelers, according to AAA TripTik searches performed March 15 to June 15. Formerly number one Orlando has slipped to number eight, replaced in the top spot by Denver. Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle and Phoenix round out the top five. AAA has outlined classic road trips at AAA.com/RoadTrips.

Gasoline prices should average $2.25/gallon this summer, 15 percent lower than the $2.66 seen last year. This is the cheapest summer gasoline price since 2016. AAA advises precautions while filling up by wearing gloves or using a sandwich bag to avoid touching the pump, and sanitizing hands immediately afterwards.

Travelers seeking up-to-date information on the latest state and local travel restrictions and closures should visit AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map at TripTik.AAA.com. AAA urges travelers to pack face coverings, gloves and cleaning supplies, along with food and beverages. At rest stops, avoid touching surfaces as much as possible and sanitize afterwards.

To help folks with travel planning, AAA Northeast has launched SMARTDEPART, an online travel site that provides webinars, live broadcasts, other resources focusing on safe-travel best practices and recommendations. The site also features an interactive Covid-19 map that allows travelers to view the latest coronavirus-related restrictions by state and locality. Join AAA Northeast for a FREE webinar, “Personal Safety During Travel”, today (June 25, 2020) at 4 p.m. Travelers can pre-register for the webinar at here.

AAA Northeast in New Jersey provides automotive, travel, insurance, financial and educational services to its nearly 745,000 members in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic and Union Counties.