Florida holiday travel may be stymied by coronavirus, election fears

Somehow, the holiday season is just a few weeks away. And while it would normally be one of the busiest travel periods of the year, many Floridians may opt to stay closer to home over concerns about the pandemic and the political landscape.

According to AAA the Auto Club Group’s annual holiday travel forecast, about a quarter of Floridians surveyed said they expect to travel for the holidays — half as many as last year. The vast majority (84 percent) cited the coronavirus as a travel concern.

“While many will prefer to stay home this holiday season, there is a segment of Floridians that are more willing to travel than they were earlier this year,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman.

For those who do expect to travel, about 70 percent said they would feel most comfortable in their own vehicle. Just 44 percent of Floridians willing to travel said they would feel comfortable taking a commercial plane to their destination.

Accommodations are another area Floridians expect to avoid. Less than 50 percent of those open to travel said they would feel comfortable in a hotel or resort, but many said they would prefer a hotel or resort over an AirBnB rental if given the choice.

Most Floridians traveling (45 percent) have already booked holiday travel reservations, and another 21 percent expect to finalize plans this month.

The early bookings are, in part, driven by the flexibility that working from home brings. Half of Floridians surveyed said they expect to travel during the fall because of this.

“Travelers should not wait until the last minute to book their holiday vacations,” Jenkins said. “The majority of holiday travelers will finalize their plans by the end of October. That means fewer options and possibly higher prices for people looking for a last minute flight.”

But this year, there are other reasons would-be travelers might cancel or delay out-of-town plans. AAA’s survey found that 21 percent of those surveyed paused travel plans because of the election, citing safety concerns (50 percent), political unrest (28 percent) and economic impacts (27 percent) as the driving factors.

Should Floridians decide to travel this year, “AAA urges all travelers to follow the safety advice of the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and work with a trusted travel advisor,” Jenkins said.

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