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If you've changed your plans for Thanksgiving and are staying home, you're not alone-- a new survey says there will likely be the fewest amount of Minnesotans hitting the highway this year in over a decade.

That's the word, anyway, from this year's Thanksgiving Travel Forecast from the American Automobile Association (AAA). Their survey says that due to concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, an estimated 10 percent of travelers here in Minnesota won't be heading over the river and through the woods to grandmother's (or any other family member's house) this Thanksgiving.

And while 10 percent didn't initially sound like that big a number to me, AAA says that's the biggest drop in travelers here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and across the country since the Great Recession of 2008. And, this travel forecast (which was released Friday, 11/13) references a survey taken before the number of positive COVID-19 cases starting skyrocketing here in Minnesota and across the upper Midwest, which makes me think that 10 percent number might even be a little low.

The survey also noted that those of us who decide to travel are likely to drive shorter distances and reduce the number of days they are away, making road trips the dominant form of travel this Thanksgiving. Still though, traveling by automobile is projected to fall 4.3%, to 47.8 million travelers in 2020.

If you ARE still planning on heading out for Thanksgiving, AAA has some tips and things to know before you go:

  • Plan Ahead - Check with state and local authorities where you are, along your route, and at your planned destination to learn about local circumstances and any restrictions that may be in place.
  • Follow Public Health Guidance -  Consistent use of face masks combined with social distancing (at least 6 feet) and regular handwashing are the best ways to lower your risk of contracting COVID-19. Be sure to pack face masks, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and a thermometer to help protect and monitor your health. Also pack water and extra snacks to reduce the need to stop along your trip.
  • Verify Before You Go -  Call ahead to minimize any last-minute surprises.
  • Hotels – Prior to any hotel stay, call ahead to ensure your hotel is open and ask what precautions they are taking to protect guests. Ask about social distancing protocols like capacity reductions in common spaces, hotel staff requirements to wear masks at all times, and if all amenities are available, like restaurant dining.
  • Car rentals – If renting a car, ask what has been done to clean the vehicle. Hertz, for example, has introduced Hertz Gold Standard Clean, an enhanced vehicle disinfectant and sanitization process. For extra peace of mind, use disinfecting wipes to wipe down door handles, steering wheels, shifters and control panels.

Even if you're NOT going anywhere this Thanksgiving, you can take a VIRTUAL trip across Minnesota and stop at some cities that have some naughty-sounding names! Keep scrolling and see how many of THESE places you've heard of!

Listen to Curt St. John from 6 to 10 a.m. on Quick Country 96.5
and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on 103.9 The Doc