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Memorial Day travel this year expected to outpace the previous 10 years

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

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.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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