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AAA predicts more Americans, Floridians will travel for Labor Day

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Service club AAA says 35.5 million Americans will travel over Labor Day weekend, the highest level since 2008, with 1.8 million Floridians expected to make a trip between Sept. 3 and Sept. 7.

“The summer travel season is almost over, and many kids are back in school, but an extended weekend and positive economic fundamentals should be enough to convince millions of Americans to take one more trip during Labor Day weekend,” Brent Stahlheber, AAA senior vice president of brand marketing and travel, said in a news release.

The prediction is a slight bump from 2014 when 35 million Americans and 1.7 million Floridians traveled over the holiday weekend. While AAA said people are more likely to travel when the weekend starts in August, lower gas prices, an improved housing market, and solid income gains have given vacationers more disposable income for an end-of-summer trip.

The Heathrow, Fla.-based company said Monday that nationwide gas prices are at the lowest level for late August since 2004. The national average for a gallon of gas sits at $2.59, an 84-cent drop year over year.

Florida’s average rings up at $2.35 a gallon as of Thursday. The Tampa Bay region has the lowest average gas price among Florida metros, at $2.21 a gallon. Orlando sits at $2.22, Jacksonville at $2.24 and Miami at $2.45.

Of the 1.8 million Floridians making a trip next weekend, 1.6 million are expected to drive, an increase of 1.8 percent from 2014. About 130,000 Floridians are expected to fly, with the remainder traveling by train, bus or cruise.

Plane tickets saw a 1 percent dip from 2014 levels, but travelers will have to pay out more for hotels. AAA said the average price for a “Two Diamond” hotel rose $13 this year to $138 a night, the highest rate in five years.

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Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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