As optimism coinciding with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and growing consumer confidence, a robust travel season is expected for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend and even further into the summer season in New Jersey, according to AAA.

MidAtlantic AAA spokeswoman Tracy Noble said more than 909,000 New Jerseyans will travel for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, up 61% compared to those who traveled in 2020. She said 94% of all Jersey travelers will go by car, up nearly 54% from a year ago.

She is also expecting more than 53,000 New Jerseyans to travel over the holiday weekend by plane. That's up a whopping 604% from a year ago. There is a clearly a return to the skies, mostly domestic travel, added Noble.

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Travel was stifled last year because of the pandemic but it won't be this year. As more people get vaccinated and things continue to open up, New Jerseyans are itching to take a vacation.

  • As far as the rest of summer, 65% of respondents are considering or planning to take a trip this summer, said Noble.
  • 34% feel their travel will be driven by their need for a quick getaway.
  • 19% are planning a longer or more extravagant trip — the so-called "Revenge Travel." Noble said those who were not able to travel during the height of the pandemic are now booking their dream vacation.
  • About 23% are choosing to stay home this summer and 24% remain undecided but say they could make a last minute decision to travel.

COVID-19 still remains a factor in some summer travel planning. The AAA poll reveals:

  • 32% of New Jerseyans have COVID-related travel concerns. Nobody is just brushing this under the rug, said Noble. But people need to be smart about their travel. They can do this by planning ahead and use a travel adviser. That way they get the most up-to-date travel information on the destination and the means of travel.
  • 23% said they have a strong desire to travel due pandemic restrictions from last year.
  • 17% feel that their ability to be fully vaccinated is the driving force behind travel plans
  • 28% say that uncertainty about activities and attractions at their destinations is a consideration as part of the planning process.

Gas prices may be higher this year than at this time a year ago. "But we do not believe that is going to keep anybody from traveling. We are expecting automobile travel to be the most used mode of transportation simply because you can keep everyone in your own bubble when you're in your own vehicle," said Noble.

She expects the classic road trip to be king this year with a return to the family road trip this summer. The Great American Road Trip has been the most popular type of travel during the pandemic and has historically been the number one choice for the Memorial Day holiday. She said this holds true for this summer.

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