Expect an above-average flow of traffic as people pile into their cars for Memorial Day getaways this year. According to AAA Travel, 37.2 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles to celebrate the summer kick-off holiday.
This is expected to be the busiest Memorial Day for travel in 10 years. Anticipated trips are up nearly 5 percent from last year’s 35.5 million.
“Following a harsh winter, many Americans are trading in their snow boots for flip flops and making plans to start the season with a vacation getaway,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA president. “AAA is expecting more Memorial Day travelers this year than any time in the past 10 years as confident consumers come out of hibernation ready to explore national parks, beach destinations and America’s great cities.”
Memorial Day travel days this year are Thursday, May 21, through Monday, May 25.
The uptick in travel plans is attributed to a strengthening economy and low gas prices. The average gas price this year is about $2.66 per gallon. That’s about $1 cheaper than gas last year.
“A strong employment market and low gas prices have driven consumer optimism to new highs and boosted Americans’ disposable income. This is welcome news for the travel industry,” Doney said.
Of the more than 37 million travelers expected this Memorial Day, 2.6 million will travel by air. That marks a 2.5 percent increase over last year. There’s a 3.6 increase in other modes of transportation used with 1.64 million people expected to hop on trains, buses and cruise ships.
Travelers by car will be up 5.3 percent with 33 million of the travelers choosing to drive to their destinations.
While gas prices are down, hotel and motel costs are up. Airfare is down slightly over last year’s prices.
AAA expects to “rescue” some 350,000 motorists suffering from flat tires, dead batteries and lockouts, among other things, nationwide.
The travel agency has some tips for drivers this holiday weekend. Motorists should inspect their vehicles and check their batteries before hitting the road. AAA has a mobile app to make it easier for motorists to get help if they’re stranded. Roadside assistance subscribers can also call 1-800-AAA-HELP or go to the agency’s website to request assistance.
The app and website also have digital tools for travel planning including AAA-approved hotels and restaurants through the TripTik Travel Planner or in searchable travel guides.
The AAA projections are based on economic forecasting models through HIS Global Insight.