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Travelers opting for more last-minute trips amid pandemic

Updated October 12, 2020 - 10:50 am

As travel inches upward following a near shutdown caused by the coronavirus, more people are deciding at the last minute to head out on trips.

September was the strongest month of the year for hotel bookings, according to AAA, though it still trailed September 2019 by 12 percent.

Nearly half the travel plans appear to be made at the last minute, as AAA found 49 percent of hotel bookings were made within three days of travel, up from 31 percent in 2019.

And 65 percent of travelers booked a hotel within seven days of travel, up from 45 percent last year, AAA data revealed.

“Travel destinations around the world have made enhancements to their operations with safety in mind,” Sergio Avila, spokesman for AAA Nevada, said in a statement. “Would-be travelers should work with a travel professional who can help them research their destination to help determine their level of comfort before booking.”

The last-minute nature of travelers in recent months has largely to do with travelers’ comfort levels.

“As some states continue to ease restrictions, those people who make the personal decision to travel are researching places to get away and doing so, albeit at lower numbers than last year,” Avila said.

Based on travel data from Nevada, Northern California, Utah, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska, travelers are leaning toward taking shorter trips, closer to home, as travel restrictions and coronavirus concerns are still prevalent.

Las Vegas was the top destination for those traveling from Nevada, Utah and Northern California through September.

San Diego, Reno, Flagstaff, Arizona, Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Monterey, California, and Salt Lake City rounded out the top 10 destinations.

If you’re thinking of traveling, AAA has a dedicated site for travelers and coronavirus regulations in each state and neighboring country.

AAA’s TripTik travel tool includes updated COVID-19 restrictions state by state, roadway checkpoints and border closures, and confirmed cases at the state and county level.

NDOT customer portal

The Nevada Department of Transportation launched an upgraded online service portal that includes access to more comprehensive state highway information.

Residents can access the site by going to nevadadot.com and selecting “Help” on the right of the screen. There users can access the following services and information:

Online chat for live highway information.

A function to request a call back on a particular concern or issue.

Answers to frequently asked highway questions including road construction, maintenance, signage and links to business services such as roadway accessibility feedback forms, permits, public records and other business services.

Customer inquiries are sent to the 65 NDOT staff subject-matter experts for a more direct and timely response. The Transportation Department sees around 2,000 customer interactions per month, varying from highway reports to business permitting and inquiries.

The customer service portal will simplify the previous manual process involving highway report forms, as well as email and phone calls, to offer an all-in-one platform. The new site is anticipated to also reduce staff time and enhance efficiency.

Customer service inquiries can still be made by calling 775-888-7000. Round-the-clock road conditions also are still available by calling 511 or logging on to www.nvroads.com.

“Ultimately, we want to keep everyone on our transportation system safe and connected,” NDOT customer service manager Debbie Binggeli said in a statement. “This new avenue for state transportation information is one additional resource to ultimately help keep Nevada families and travelers safe and more informed on the road, and to enhance the public service that is at the heart of what we do.”

Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number. Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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