Memorial Day Travel to Be Highest in Over a Decade

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Travel during the Memorial Day weekend will be the highest since before the Great Recession. It is expected that 39.3 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home over the period from May 25 to May 29. The AAA, which supplied the forecast, includes Americans who will travel by car, rail, plane or water.

The figure has not been matched since 2005, one of the strongest years of the economic recovery that lasted from 2003 to 2006. GDP tapered off in 2007 and then the economy plunged into recession. An improved economy is the most important reason cited for the jump in Memorial Day travel.

Bill Sutherland, AAA Senior Vice President, Travel and Publishing, said:

The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year Higher confidence has led to more consumer spending, and many Americans are choosing to allocate their extra money on travel this Memorial Day.

The research by the AAA showed that 2.7% more people will travel over the Memorial Day weekend than did last year. It is the third straight year of growth by that measure. Just over 88% will travel by car, up 2.4% from last year. Just under 3% will travel by air, up 5.5% from 2016.

Gasoline prices will be higher than they have been recently, although it will not affect the increase of those who will drive. And the increase is small. The AAA reports:

The national average price for a gallon of gas today is $2.34, 11 cents more than last year. Americans are planning to rent cars for their holiday road trips this year. AAA’s car rental bookings are 19 percent higher than last Memorial Day. According to Hertz, the busiest day for car rental pick-ups is expected to be Friday, May 26, based on last year’s data.

Those who will travel by air face a much larger increase in prices. The organization forecasts:

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be 9 percent higher this Memorial Day, with an average round trip ticket landing at $181. Hotel costs have also increased since last Memorial Day, with the average AAA Three Diamond Rated hotel costing $215, or 18 percent more than last year. Daily car rental rates will average $66, which is 7 percent more than last year.

Finally, most of the top destinations for Memorial Day are not in the United States but in Europe. According to the AAA, these are the most visited cities:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Rome, Italy
  3. London, England
  4. Dublin, Ireland
  5. Vancouver, Canada
  6. Seattle, Washington
  7. Las Vegas, Nevada
  8. New York, New York
  9. Paris, France
  10. Honolulu, Hawaii

IHS Markit provided the research work of the study.