Travel Group Predicts Illinois Holiday Travel Numbers Will Crash
In spite of (or maybe because of) warnings galore to skip the traveling over Thanksgiving, lots of Illinoisans still hit the road. Christmastime may be a different story.
AAA Illinois says that they expect the vast majority of Americans to stay home this holiday season, a period that typically sees high demand for vacations. While AAA expects at least 34 million fewer travelers compared to last year’s holiday season, they say that as many as 84 million Americans may still travel from December 23rd through January 3rd, a decline in travel of almost 30 percent.
In our state, just over 6.1 million Illinoisans traveled last year during the holiday season and this year is showing signs of a nearly 30% decrease with 4.2 million travelers expected to travel in some way throughout the holiday season.
Travel experts say that holiday travelers are continuing to take a wait-and-see approach to their travel decisions. With COVID‑19 cases steadily increasing this month, the expected continued might just prompt some of us to make last minute decisions to not follow through with upcoming travel plans, which was the trend during the lead up to Thanksgiving.
I mentioned that even though the warnings against travel were in full effect leading up to Thanksgiving, there were plenty of people who hit the road anyway. Going into Thanksgiving weekend, AAA Chicago had predicted that up to 50 million people would travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, which would have been a decline of 10% from 2019. While final Thanksgiving travel numbers are not yet available, AAA expects the decline to be closer to 15 or 20%.
Here in the Rockford area (and Illinois as a whole), those of us who have decided to get away for Christmas will do so by car, with road trips accounting for 96% of holiday travel. Up to 81 million Americans will travel by car, a decline of at least 25% compared to last year. Auto travel is expected to replace some trips previously taken by bus, train or airplane, given the flexibility, security and comfort traveling by car provides, along with the fact that you won't find yourself lost in a crowd of people.
Unless you've got a really big car.