The lowest holiday gasoline prices in more than a decade are contributing mightily to what AAA estimates will be the second-highest Memorial Day travel volume on record and the most since 2005. The vast majority, 89%, will be taking road trips, the highest percentage since AAA began tracking the data in 2000.
More than 83 million travelers will be taking to the roads, skies and rails this year, an increase of about 700,000 over the Memorial Day holiday in 2015.
Thursday’s national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $2.26, down 45 cents compared with last year. U.S. drivers are expected to pay the lowest summertime gasoline prices in 12 years this summer and as a group might save a total of $15 billion during the summer driving season.
Marshall Doney, president and CEO of AAA, said:
Americans are eagerly awaiting the start of summer and are ready to travel in numbers not seen in more than a decade. The great American road trip is officially back thanks to low gas prices, and millions of people from coast to coast are ready to kick off summer with a Memorial Day getaway.
About 6.8% of all travelers (2.58 million) will travel by air this Memorial Day and, according to AAA, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flights will be 26% cheaper this year with an average round trip fare of $165.
Hotel costs are in line with last year’s costs, averaging $183 at AAA’s three diamond-rated hotels and $151 at those with two diamond ratings. Daily rental car rates are expected to average $62, down 3% year over year.
AAA also listed the top 10 destinations for Memorial Day travelers this year:
- Orlando, Fla.
- Myrtle Beach, S.C.
- Washington, D.C.
- New York City
- Miami, Fla.
- San Francisco, Calif.
- Boston, Mass.
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Los Angeles, Calif.
- South Padre Island, Texas
The five-day holiday period this year runs from Thursday, May 26 to Monday, May 30. AAA and IHS combined to provide the forecast, which is based on variables including employment, output, household net worth, asset prices including stock indexes, interest rates, housing market indicators and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays.