Holiday Travel: Will PA Get On The Road Or Cancel Plans?

PENNSYLVANIA — To travel, or not to travel – that’s the question most New Jerseyans are asking themselves this Holiday season.

A few weeks ago, Pennsylvania residents were ready to put the pandemic in the rear-view mirror. But the post-Thanksgiving surge coupled with the new Omicron threat has put travel plans in limbo for many.

A holiday travel survey released by The Vacationer said more than 122 million Americans will travel to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. The Christmas Travel Survey is the third part of The Vacationer’s holiday series.

The Vacationer collected data using SurveyMonkey. This data was then analyzed by Eric Jones, an assistant professor of mathematics at Rowan College of South Jersey. Jones broke down the data by region to give us an idea about travel this holiday season.

In the mid-Atlantic region — Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, — 45 percent of respondents said they were more comfortable traveling this year, as compared to 2020. However, they will travel within the region, as responders said they chose to celebrate with family and friends.

“Around 41.94 percent responders said they will be traveling within 1 to 99 miles,” Jones said. “Only 3.8 percent responders said they were comfortable traveling 1000 mile or more.” Respondents from the region were not comfortable getting on a flight and only 15 percent of respondents said they are willing to travel between 100 to 199 miles. The favored mode of transportation is the car.

Another interesting aspect that the data showed was 45.16 percent of respondents chose to celebrate with vaccinated family and friends only.

“In our region, people are getting vaccinated. They are maintaining social distancing and are used to mask mandates. So, they feel fairly comfortable traveling and visiting within the region,” said Jones, who is also co-founder of The Vacationer.

Pennsylvania residents are also not willing to spend too much on travel. While nationally 3.02 percent said they are willing to spend between $1500- $2000, this figure dropped to 1.94 percent in the region, Jones said.

People instead chose to participate in other holiday activities like meals with friends and family, decorating the home, and baking cookies, Jones said.

But this poll was administered on Oct. 17 – much before the World Health Organization identified the new coronavirus variant. Since then, much has changed.

Jones believes the threat of the Omicron variant will have a slight effect on the nationwide survey, but “the figures will hold” regionally.

” So even with the Omicron variant, the figures will hold, with a slight drop, because people are only traveling short distances to be with family,” he said.

Since the Omicron variant was first reported, Federal officials have rolled out a renewed travel ban to eight southern African countries — Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, officials in Pennsylvania continue to make preparations for the potential spread of the omicron variant – including introducing more mass testing sites and expanding genetic sequencing tests in labs that can detect omicron.

What are your travel plans this holiday season? Let us know in the comments below.

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