AAA: Memorial Day Travel at Highest Level Since 2005
BELLEVUE, Wash. — AAA projects that 39.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, a 2.7% increase from 2016. That is one million more travelers than last year taking to the roads, skies, rails and water, creating the highest Memorial Day travel volume since 2005.
While the vast majority of travelers are planning a Memorial Day road trip, many other Americans will take advantage of the long holiday weekend and travel long distance and internationally, with Europe especially popular this year. The top destinations for Memorial Day weekend, based on AAA travel bookings, are:
- Orlando, Florida
- Rome, Italy
- London, England
- Dublin, Ireland
- Vancouver, Canada
- Seattle, Washington
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- New York, New York
- Paris, France
- Honolulu, Hawaii
The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 25 to Monday, May 29.
“The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year,” said Jennifer Cook, AAA Washington spokesperson. “Higher confidence has led to more consumer spending, and many Americans are choosing to allocate their extra money on travel this Memorial Day.”
By the Numbers: Memorial Day Travel Forecast
- 2017 will mark the third consecutive year of growth in Memorial Day travel with 2.7 percent more travelers than last year.
- 34.6 million Americans (88.1 percent of travelers) will drive to their destinations, an increase of 2.4 percent over last year.
- 2.9 million Americans are taking to the skies this Memorial Day, increasing air travel by 5.5 percent over last year.
- 1.75 million travelers, an increase 2.9 percent from 2016, will look to other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses.
- Gas prices, airfares, car rental rates and mid-range hotels are all trending higher than last Memorial Day.
Travelers still hitting the road despite higher gas prices
While AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Memorial Day gas prices since 2015, the vast majority of holiday travelers (88.1 percent) are still planning to hit the road. Automobile travel will grow by 2.4 percent this Memorial Day, with 34.6 million Americans planning a holiday road trip. The national average price for a gallon of gas today is $2.34, 10 cents more than last year. Today, the average price of gas is $2.88 in Washington, 30 cents more than last year, and $2.55 in Idaho, a 12 cent increase.
More 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.
Large increases in flying and travel by other modes this Memorial Day
While road trips continue to reign supreme for Memorial Day, more Americans will fly, ride the train or bus, or take a cruise vacation compared to last year. Air travel is expected to increase 5.5 percent over last year, with 2.9 million Americans taking to the skies this Memorial Day. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase 2.9 percent, to 1.75 million travelers.
Airfares, hotel and car rental rates on the rise
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.
AAA to rescue more than 330,000 motorists this Memorial Day
AAA expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists nationally this Memorial Day weekend, with the primary reasons being a tow, battery-related issues and lockouts. In Washington and northern Idaho alone, AAA expects to rescue more than 7,000 motorists, for the same reasons.
AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.
Download the AAA Mobile app before a Memorial Day getaway
Before setting out for Memorial Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
About the Travel Forecast:
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast is available here.