Expect more staycations this summer

Mitchell Hartman Jul 3, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
Beachgoers take in the views while wearing masks in Ventura, California. Planning a summer vacation this year poses extra logistical challenges. Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Expect more staycations this summer

Mitchell Hartman Jul 3, 2020
Beachgoers take in the views while wearing masks in Ventura, California. Planning a summer vacation this year poses extra logistical challenges. Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Let’s be real — a lot of people in this country could use a vacation, and it is a really tough time to try to plan one. 

States and counties that have opened may be closing again. Rules about mask-wearing are different, and differently enforced, depending on where you go. And, of course, the number of new COVID-19 cases basically hits a new record every day. 

Summer vacation spending — both a release and a huge economic driver —is in limbo. For many Americans, vacation will be “stay-at-home,” or at least “stay close-to-home,” this summer.

Jeanette Casselano, public affairs manager at AAA, predicts travel will decline 15% from last year

“Air, cruise, bus and rail have really been decimated,” she said. They’re down 75% to 85%.

What’s hardly down at all is road-tripping. Casselano said people are waiting until the last minute to decide — based on COVID-19 numbers, beach openings and the like. It helps that gas is cheap. 

“People are really turning to their own personal vehicles or rental vehicles, and that’s because [the] car provides so much flexibility,” Casselano said.

As for conditions once travelers arrive — with the exception of big urban convention venues — most hotels will be open, though with lower occupancy than before the pandemic, according to Chip Rogers, president of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

Rogers said guests will see ramped-up cleaning in public spaces and will be greeted with new options like “the opportunity to do a number of things, from checking in, to receiving food, in a contact-less manner.”

“In places like pool decks, bars, restaurants, workout areas — if they’re open — you’ll see the seating or the equipment separated by space so that people can keep six feet of distance,” Rogers said.

Some people are still flying — mostly to see friends or family or for love. 

Sarah Sumner, 27, is a yoga teacher living in Brooklyn.

“I met someone online and was like ‘Oh, my goodness I need to meet them in person,'” Sumner said. “So I ended up flying to Portland.”

Her flights in May and June were good, she said.

“They had taken out the middle seat,” she said. “Everybody was really waiting and being cautious and wanting to not only observe masks but also having social distancing.”

And her new romance? Well, she’s planning another trip later this summer.

But more airlines are trying to sell those middle-seats, reducing the distance between passengers.

“For example, American [Airlines] needs on some routes 75% load-factors to be profitable,” said Peter McNally, an analyst at Third Bridge. “In that case, you’re probably going to see middle seats being used.”

And summer travel decisions keep getting more complicated. 

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have now ordered 14-day quarantines for some out-of-state travelers as COVID-19 cases surge in parts of the U.S. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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