Valley residents weigh holiday travel as AAA predicts lowest volume in 18 years

PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KFSN) -- AAA predicts there will be 34 million fewer travelers this holiday season compared to last year because of the pandemic.

Action News spoke to a Porterville family that says they will be staying put for Christmas.

Because they take the threat of COVID-19 seriously, they're only traveling for essential reasons, such as an appointment at Valley Children's Hospital on Wednesday for 10-year-old Lilly.

"This year is a little different," said Elias Ramirez.

"A lot different actually," Elias' mom, Patricia, added. "Trying to stay safe and just stay with one another and try to stay away."

Patricia Ramirez says they normally drive south to gather with family.

This year, they only dropped off some gifts at relatives' homes in Bakersfield.

"Like they say, show that we care," she said. "But we care also by staying away and trying to stay safe."

AAA expects end-of-year holiday travel to fall by nearly 30% this year due to coronavirus concerns.

Still, experts predict one in four Americans will travel by train, plane, bus, or car - but mostly car.

"Well yes, I would say people are traveling," Express Car Rental Owner Ahmed Shaik said. "As you can see, our lot is empty."

Express Car Rental saw a slowdown during the fall.

But business picked up around Thanksgiving, and again this week ahead of Christmas and New Year's.

Shaik said most of his customers are traveling to see their parents or children.

"But people are taking precautions, I'm glad about that," he said.

Tulare County Supervisor Amy Shuklian hopes people will think about doing the right thing by avoiding unnecessary travel.

The CDC says you may be more likely to get COVID-19 or spread the disease by traveling.

"I can't condone it because of what's going on, what's going on here locally right here at Kaweah Delta, but I get it," Shuklian said. "It's just unfortunate that some folks just can't hold out like I know a lot of people are, like I'm doing, like my friends are doing."

If you do decide to travel, the CDC recommends that you wear a mask and stay six feet apart from people you don't live with.

Also, if you're driving, limit the number of stops you make by packing food with you.
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