Weekly Feature

2017-05-18 / Business

AAA predicts highest Memorial Day travel level since 2005

AAA projects that 39.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Memorial Day weekend. According to a press release from the organization, that is 1 million more travelers than last year taking to the roads, skies, rails and water, creating the highest Memorial Day travel volume since 2005.

“The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year,” said Carol DiOrio, vice president of travel at AAA Western and Central New York. “Higher confidence has led to more consumer spending, and many Americans are choosing to allocate their extra money on travel this Memorial Day.”

The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 25 to Monday, May 29, the release said.

By the numbers, AAA provides travelers a forecast for Memorial Day.

• 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 of 2.9 percent from 2016, will look to other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses.

• Drivers will pay the highest Memorial Day gas prices since 2015. Airfares, car rental rates and mid-range hotels are all trending higher than last Memorial Day.

AAA predicts that automobile travel will grow by 2.4 percent this Memorial Day, with 34.6 million Americans planning a holiday road trip, as stated in the release. The national average price for a gallon of gas today is $2.34, 12 cents more than last year. The New York state average is $2.50. Travelers can check gas prices at GasPrices.AAA.com.

According to the release, more Americans are planning to rent cars for their holiday road trips this year. The company’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.

While road trips continue to reign supreme for Memorial Day, the release said 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. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase 2.9 percent, to 1.75 million travelers.

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


AAA said the company expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists this Memorial Day weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. According to the release, AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

According to Waze, the free, real-time crowdsourced traffic and navigation app, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York are the busiest metro areas this Memorial Day weekend, based on last year’s accident and traffic jam data. For travelers visiting or driving through these cities, be aware of high traffic volumes on Thursday and Friday — New York City sees an average 27 percent increase in accident alerts on these two days, the release said.

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 internationally, with Europe especially popular this year. According to the release, the top destinations for Memorial Day weekend, based on

AAA travel bookings, are:
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

According to Hertz, the busiest airport pick-up locations for travelers planning to rent a car this Memorial Day are expected to be Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orlando, Atlanta and Denver, based on data from 2016.

Before setting out for Memorial Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. According to the release, travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance and find AAA approved auto repair facilities.

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