AAA: Record-Low Number of Americans Traveling Memorial Day Weekend — but Gas Is Cheap

Aerial photograph of one car on a highway.
Unsplash/Byron Johnson

AAA Mid-Atlantic is not issuing a Memorial Day travel forecast for the first time in two decades but speculated on its website that due to the coronavirus this year’s holiday weekend could mark a record low number of Americans traveling. This comes after last year’s record-high number of more than one million Americans taking a trip on the three-day weekend.

AAA Mid-Atlantic posted an article about the contrast of pre- and post-coronavirus travel plans:

This Memorial Day, Americans may harken back to the “See the USA in a Chevrolet” halcyon “road trip” days of yore. For those who opt to venture out on a one-day road trip over the upcoming holiday weekend, they will experience the cheapest holiday gas prices around Memorial Day in two decades. Although “traveling in the age of COVID-19 can be tricky,” yet with gas prices this low, some Washingtonians may set out on shorter jaunts by car to vistas along the rolling northern Virginia countryside or the Shenandoah Valley, or to Civil War sites in Maryland, or to the peaks of West Virginia, or to a wide array of other venues.

Locally, Washington D.C., remains under a stay at home order until Monday, June 8. In Maryland, Prince George’s County will remain under a stay at home order through June 1 and Montgomery County is under a stay at home order without a current end date. Several Northern Virginia counties also remain under a stay at home order until May 28.

“Gas prices around Memorial Day have not been this cheap in nearly 20 years. However, as the country continues to practice social distancing, this year’s unofficial kick-off to summer is not going to drive the typical millions of Americans to travel,” John B. Townsend II, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said. “Despite inexpensive gas prices, AAA anticipates this year’s holiday will likely set a record low for travel volume.”

The average price for gas nationally is $1.89, with the cheapest in the region at $1.70 in Virginia.

CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES

Regular Unleaded Gasoline (*indicates record high)

5/19/2020 Week Ago Year Ago
National $1.89 $1.86 $2.86
Washington, D.C. $2.17 $2.18 $2.94
D.C. Metro $1.97 $1.96 $2.77
Maryland $1.95 $1.88 $2.77
Virginia $1.70 $1.68 $2.59

Courtesy of AAA Mid-Atlantic

The report noted that Memorial Day 2009 (toward the end of the Great Recession) currently holds the record for the lowest travel volume at nearly 31 million travelers.

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