LEXINGTON, Ky. — As the Labor Day holiday weekend approaches, travelers are taking to the roadways rather than flying or using other modes of transportation, according to AAA.
“Lower gas prices are also helping to fuel the demand for family road trips, as Labor Day prices at the pump are the lowest in four years,” says Lori Weaver Hawkins, public and government affairs manager, AAA Blue Grass. “But travelers aren’t opting for the usual tourist spots, as concerns over the coronavirus continue to shape travel plans. “
As economies reopened over the summer, AAA retail locations saw heightened interest in its road trip travel tools. The majority of requests in Lexington have been for travel guidance to western states and national parks, with members opting to experience scenic drives and destinations rather than the typical theme park destination.
Labor Day gas prices lower
At $2.23 heading into the weekend, the national gas price average is at its lowest for Labor Day weekend in four years. Although gas prices across most of the country saw a slight increase as a result of Hurricane Laura, prices in Kentucky have since fallen, landing at the $2.07 mark going into the weekend. That’s considerably lower than the $2.32 average seen a year ago for the holiday weekend.
In Lexington, the average for unleaded has dropped down to $2.02 compared to $2.21 going into Labor Day weekend last year. Lexington gas prices have dropped 8 cents in the past week.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a drop in demand for gasoline, leaving a large domestic supply, which has been a primary factor in keeping gas prices lower.
Plan ahead for a safe trip
In these times of the pandemic, AAA reminds travelers it’s important to take some extra precautions to reduce risks of the coronavirus if you do make the decision to take a trip. Here are some ways to stay safe when traveling:
Hand sanitizer. Bring a large pump-style bottle of 70% alcohol-based sanitizer for the car. A pump bottle reduces handling of the bottle. You can trigger the pump with the back of your hand. Sanitize before getting out of the car and immediately after returning. Be sure everyone has a small, individualized bottle to take with them when leaving the car.
Sanitizing wipes. Keeping a packet in the car can help you get into the habit of wiping down all areas of your vehicle where you have contact, such as the steering wheel, shift knob, door handles and seat belt latches. If you forget to bring wipes, pump a little sanitizer onto a napkin and apply. Bring a second packet of wipes with you to take when you leave the vehicle so you can use it when opening a restaurant door, using a gas pump, sitting down at a table or using a public restroom.
Wear a mask. They are required in most municipalities when entering any public building or in outdoor spaces where people congregate. Keep in mind, the bandana or gaiter style of mask is not approved in all public areas, including Disney. Bring one washable mask for each day of your trip and use a new one daily. If you are traveling with kids or several people, it may be more efficient to invest in a box of disposable masks so everyone can simply grab and go.
Pack a lunch and more. Packing food and snacks will help reduce the number of stops you have to make, and therefore the number of potential interactions. You’ll also reach your destination sooner. Pack lunch when you can, along with a variety of snacks. Opt for single-use packets so you’re all not reaching into the same bag. Bring a cooler with beverages.
Social distance. When you do make a stop, stay 6 feet apart when standing in lines. Self-seating restaurants typically have their tables spaced, with distance and directional markers on the floor. Consider ordering ahead via a mobile app to further reduce contact.
If you feel uncomfortable, leave. If you notice workers are not wearing masks properly (they should cover the entire mouth and nose) or there are simply too many people inside, don’t hesitate to leave.
Use the AAA mobile app. Remember to bring the AAA mobile app along for the ride. You’ll be able to make hotel reservations along the way at AAA member rates, and find local attractions, restaurants, and other venues that offer AAA discounts.
Taking to the roadways
Earlier this summer, AAA forecast Americans would take 700 million road trips in the period from midsummer to late summer―July 1 to September 30.
AAA reports a surge in requests for road trip travel tools, such as travel guidebooks, maps and TripTiks, AAA’s customized road trip planner.
While Orlando has typically been among the top destinations any month of the year, vacationers across the region are now more interested in road trips and wide open spaces where they can more safely manage coronavirus risks.
AAA Club Alliance, the third largest AAA club in the nation, serves more than 6 million members in Kentucky, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC. The club reports the following destinations as the most popular requests members made for TripTiks heading into summer:
- Yellowstone National Park
- Rapid City
- Oklahoma City
- Hilton Head Island
- Myrtle Beach
Road trips made easy with curbside service
With road trip essentials like maps, tour books and TripTiks being the number one requested service this summer, AAA is trying to make it as safe and easy as possible for members to request travel guidance.
“AAA understands that the decision to travel during these times is a personal one. As travelers plan for future trips we are here to help and safety remains our top priority,” says Weaver Hawkins.
Members can take advantage of curbside services when requesting TripTiks, tour books and other travel materials, avoiding the need to go into a AAA retail location for the tools they need to plan their road trip.
In addition to curbside pickup, TripTiks and other travel tools are also available on the AAA website and on the AAA mobile app. Virtual guidebooks are available for journeys across the country. The guidebooks come complete with itineraries to get the most out of any destination, even if you have only a few days to spend. They include in-depth destination information with links to articles, videos, travel tips and more. Those traveling with a family will find lists of kid-friendly attractions as well.
For those seeking a scenic drive, AAA offers AAA Road Trips, nearly 600 regional routes, with descriptive narratives for each leg of the journey and recommended things to see and do.
The AAA mobile app highlights AAA-diamond rated hotels and restaurants, directions, attractions and more, with information from AAA travel editors. It also lists current gas prices.