CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Despite COVID-19 cases climbing -- and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issuing an urgent plea not to travel this Thanksgiving – AAA estimates somewhere around 50 million Americans still will.
“I am headed to the west coast to spend time with my parents and my sister,” said Anna Deshon, who was flying out of Charlotte-Douglas airport Friday. “I think the airlines have done a good job with the cleaning and mask mandates and everything,” she said.
Also flying, was Megan Mower and her three sons, who were headed to spend Thanksgiving with family in Las Vegas.
“I think it’s so important, kids need holidays the same that we do,” said Mower, who said for this trip, she’s packed more than just clothes. “We have hand-sanitizer, Clorox wipes and we have the blue light to kill the germs on the fabric of the seats.”
For others like the Norton family, getting on an airplane just too risky.
“Personally, we feel safer driving than going on an airplane,” said Jennifer Norton.
Instead, the Nortons say they chose to make a 20-hour drive from New York to Florida to visit family. We caught up with them Friday, as they made a quick stop in South Carolina.
“We’re from New York and it’s getting worse and worse so we figured we’re actually safer getting out of New York for the holiday,” said dad, Dan Norton, ”I was tested last week and we have to get tested twice more before coming back, so we feel pretty safe about it.”
An escape is also what Jeannie Green says she’s after. Green says she left Virginia this morning and is headed south to spend Thanksgiving on the beaches of Daytona, saying restrictions there are less strict than in the town she lives in.
Asked what’s she looking forward to most, Green said, “Just a little bit more freedom and no hassles...that kind of thing. Volusia county is not a mask mandate, they’re just a mask suggestion.”
This week, health experts cited COVID fatigue as a very real and very dangerous reality, fearing many may be letting their guard down, right as the holiday season is arriving.
But for those who have their mind set on traveling, AAA says there are some tips they recommend.
“You want to limit your stops, you want to make sure you have your non-perishable food items with you, you’ll want to make sure you have water, your medications, so you can plan ahead and limit some of those stops because you just don’t know what you might encounter,” says Tiffany Wright, spokesperson for AAA of the Carolinas, “You might go to a gas station, they might not allow you to use the restroom, you might stop at a restaurant and you may not be able to go in.”
Wright also recommends travelers familiarize themselves with the safety mandates and restrictions in place in the county they plan to visit ahead of time. She says many families traveling this fall have found attractions and amenities, they thought were open, closed.
Wright also says while it may seem obvious, it’s a good idea to pack extra hand-sanitizer and face masks.
Lastly, she says when it comes to hotels and car rentals, travelers should call ahead to ask about cleaning and sanitation processes.
In addition, at hotels, she says travelers should call ahead to ensure the hotel is open and ask what precautions they are taking to protect guests, including social distancing protocols like capacity reductions in common spaces, and if hotel staff is required to wear masks at all times.