NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For the first time in 20 years, AAA will not issue a Memorial Day travel forecast, as the accuracy of the economic data used to create the forecast has been compromised by the public health crisis.
"Obviously with the COVID-19 global situation, there is just not enough reliable economic data for us to make a clear prediction," said Stephanie Milani, public affairs director for AAA Tennessee.
AAA is expecting travel to be as low as it ever has been during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
"With social distancing guidelines still in practice, this holiday weekend’s travel volume is likely to set a record low," said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel.
Memorial Day 2009 holds the record for the lowest travel volume at nearly 31 million travelers, according to AAA. That holiday weekend fell toward the end of the Great Recession.
AAA expects people will travel as soon as it is safe because the desire is still there.
"When there is an all clear to travel, there will be pent-up demand and people will want to get out on the road... that desire to spend money doesn't necessarily go away and that desire for experiences doesn't go away," Milani said.
But before people are comfortable booking a flight, they are likely to take a road trip, explained Milani.
"There may be even more people choosing to go on a road trip because there is more flexibility. You have a bit more control over your destination, when you go and how you get there," Milani said.
It may be summer's end before Tennesseans are ready to travel.
"They may end up taking a quick vacation or a longer one during the Labor Day vacation. They still might not feel very comfortable going to the beach or a couple states away, but they may decide they do feel comfortable traveling to the Smoky Mountains or going for a day trip or a long weekend," Milani said.