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Traffic streaks along U.S. Highway 50 early in the morning, Friday, March 30, 2018 across the Potomac River from Washington in Arlingotn, Va. 

TOLEDO – A survey by AAA indicates that a large majority of Ohio residents will not be traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, and 40% of those staying home say it is because of COVID-19 concerns.

“Given the recent surge in COVID-19 and the strong urging of public health officials for everyone to stay home for the holiday, the Thanksgiving travel landscape continues to change,” said Kara Hitchens, AAA spokesperson. “With that in mind, AAA conducted a new poll asking Ohio residents who have decided against traveling for the holiday whether COVID-19, specifically, was the reason - and 40% said yes.”

The AAA survey provides this snapshot:

84% are not traveling for the holiday

40% not traveling because of coronavirus

60% said they were not planning to travel anyway

Of those traveling, 83% driving, 16% flying

81% perceive travel during COVID-19 as a risk – with 34% saying they perceive it to be a significant risk.

Of the survey respondents still planning to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday:

83% plan to drive

16% plan to fly

The AAA survey of 895 Ohio residents was conducted Nov. 12-13 by Public Policy Polling. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.3%.

What to expect on the roads

Of those who do still plan to travel, most will be driving to their holiday destinations so motorists should expect they’ll have company on the roads.

“Although Thanksgiving is typically a driving holiday, it should be noted that, since the beginning of COVID, those who have decided to travel this year have predominantly done so by car where they can have greater control over their environment and the ability to modify plans at the last minute,” Hitchens said.

AAA reminds those hitting the road to plan their route ahead. To minimize the number of stops along the way, pack meals, extra snacks and drinks in addition to an emergency roadside kit – including extra masks and wipes.

In addition to CDC guidance, travelers should also be aware of local and state travel restrictions, including testing requirements and quarantine orders in the states you are traveling to, through and also upon your return.

An interactive map with the latest COVID-19 related restrictions for all states can be found at

No holiday for AAA Emergency Roadside Rescue

Despite the drop in number of people traveling for the holiday, AAA is expecting thousands of calls for Emergency Roadside Service. Last year over the Thanksgiving holiday, AAA responded to more than 700 calls for help in Northwest Ohio.

“COVID-19 adds an extra layer of complexity to all interactions, including roadside emergency calls, so this year it is more important than ever for all motorists to ensure that their vehicles are road-ready, even if they are just driving across town,” Hitchens said.

Lower gas prices

Those who do decide to hit the road for Thanksgiving will find cheaper gas prices. On average, gas prices nationally are nearly 50 cents cheaper than this time last year, with October averages the lowest in more than 15 years.

Here in Ohio, the average price of gas Wednesday was $1.93, which is 8 cents cheaper than a month ago and 64 cents cheaper than last year at this time.

What to expect if you are flying

AAA expects Thanksgiving air travel will see the largest one-year decrease on record.

Several airlines have been waiving change fees for would-be Thanksgiving travelers who decide not to go at this time.

If flying, AAA reminds air travelers that in-flight amenities, including food and beverage services, may not be available. Also, as a precaution, wipe down the seat, armrest, belt buckle and tray table using disinfecting wipes.

AAA national Thanksgiving holiday forecast

Based on mid-October economic forecast models, before the newest surge in COVID cases nationwide, AAA would have expected up to 50 million Americans to travel for Thanksgiving – a drop from 55 million in 2019 – based on previous projections. However, as the holiday approaches and Americans monitor the public health landscape, the actual number of holiday travelers is expected to be lower than we have seen in years.