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COVID In Colorado: AAA Predicts Lowest Thanksgiving Travel Volume In 4 Years

DENVER (CBS4) - Significantly fewer Coloradans plan to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to a new report from AAA. Officials said health and economic concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic are key drivers behind the anticipated decline in travel.

Thanksgiving Week Snowstorm 2019
Thanksgiving holiday traffic travels on Interstate 70 in Genesee, Colorado on November 27, 2019. (credit: JASON CONNOLLY/AFP via Getty Images)

AAA projects 50 million Americans will travel this Thanksgiving, with 897,000 travelers in Colorado. It is expected to be the lowest Thanksgiving travel volume in 4 years and the largest yearly decline since the great recession.

Officials with AAA said it is likely some travelers might cancel their Thanksgiving plans if COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

"The goal for this incredibly abnormal Thanksgiving holiday is to make sure we can have a normal one next year," said Skyler McKinley, director of public affairs for AAA Colorado. "To that end, reconsider your travel plans, stick to small gatherings, wear a mask, wash your hands, and think about others as we express gratitude for the fact that we will eventually make it past this challenge."

Holiday Travel Ahead Of Thanksgiving Clogs Airports And Highways
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 22: Delta planes sit on the tarmac at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) on the day before Thanksgiving, the nation's busiest travel day on November 22, 2017 in New York City. According to the American Automobile Association, 50.9 million Americans are expected to travel over this year's Thanksgiving holiday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

AAA Thanksgiving Travel Forecast: 

  • 848,000 Coloradans will travel by car
    • 1.7% increase over 2019
  • 34,000 Coloradans will travel by airplane
    • 45% decrease from 2019
  • Fewer than 15,000 Coloradans will take a bus, train or cruise
    • 75% decrease from 2019

In a survey of Coloradans, AAA and found that 70% canceled or postponed their 2020 travel plans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those surveyed, 23% of Coloradans said they are comfortable traveling for the holidays.

AAA Colorado Survey Results: 

  • 75% willing to wear a mask in public while traveling
  • 22% will wear a mask only if required
  • 3% refuse to wear a mask to travel
  • 73% comfortable traveling in their own vehicle
  • 28% comfortable taking a commercial flight
  • 70% work from home more often due to the pandemic
  • 67% don't plan to take a trip of 3 or more days during the holiday season
  • 46% more comfortable traveling once a vaccine is available

AAA predicts Wednesday, Nov. 25 will be the busiest day on the roads with the highest volume expected in the afternoon. The projections are based on research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider.

In Colorado, motorists can expect to pay an average of $2.18 for a gallon of gas. The figure is down from $2.79 during Thanksgiving week in 2019.

Gas pump (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Thanksgiving Gas Price Forecast (unleaded): 

  • $2.62 in Vail (most expensive)
  • $2.09 in Denver
  • $2.08 in Greeley (cheapest)

"Thanksgiving gas prices should remain lower than last year, but drivers shouldn't be surprised if they inch higher in the coming weeks," McKinley said. "The fuel market is excited about the news of a possible coronavirus vaccine and the hope of an eventual return to normalcy. Crude oil and wholesale gasoline prices both increased this week, which should stop gas prices from falling much further."

AAA recommends drivers check out their COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map as well as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 data tracker for the latest travel restrictions. Travelers who plan to drive to their destination can plan their road trip at

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