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Most Virginians say they won't travel for Thanksgiving

"It'll be a different year on our roadways."
Posted at 12:52 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 12:53:47-05

GOOCHLAND, Va. -- Many Virginians hit the roads Tuesday for the Thanksgiving holiday -- one day before what would usually be one of the busiest travel days of the year. But according to a AAA survey, most Virginians said they wouldn't be traveling this year.

Martha Meade, Manager of Public Affairs, said AAA surveyed Virginians last week, finding 84% said they wouldn't be traveling for Thanksgiving, and more than 40% said that's due to COVID.

"Normally this time of year, we’d be talking about how more than a million Virginians would be heading out for Thanksgiving. This year -- a completely different story," said Meade. "For air travel we expect this to be the lowest we’ve seen likely in history."

The survey found of the respondents still planning to travel, 82% planned to drive, 12% planned to fly, and 6% planned to travel by some 'other' mode of transportation like a bus or train.

Travelers like Ariel Coakley and Tony Alter stopped at the Goochland County rest stop Tuesday morning.

Coakley said she was on her way to see family. Alter was on his way to visit friends.

"Really excited to be home to see all my family I haven’t seen since all the COVID stuff," said Coakley. "We were kind of skeptical about meeting for Thanksgiving because my Grandma has problems that make her more susceptible to COVID, but she was like, just in case something happens in the future, we want to see each other because it would mean a lot."

Alter said he planned to drive to Harvard, Illinois to spend Thanksgiving with friends. Then fly to Puerto Rico out of Chicago.

"I was tired of sitting on the couch since March," said Alter.

He said, even among friends, he planned to remain socially distant. And all of them had a recent negative COVID test.

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"They finished off the basement, so I have my own apartment there, so when I go, I get to stay by myself. My own bathroom, kitchen, office, all that," Alter said.

He said he's most excited for the chance to get out of the house to visit people.

"You sit at home day after day, especially when you live alone. Just the dogs," Alter said.

As cases continued to increase rapidly across the U.S., the CDC recommended celebrating Thanksgiving at home with only the people you live with.

Those still planning to travel, were advised to make sure their car was road worthy, pack sanitizers and wipes, and get familiar with restrictions in the state they travel to, according to Meade.

"It'll be a different year on our roadways, a different year in the skies," said Meade. "It's just 2020."