AAA Travel projects 36.1 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 1.5 percent increase from the 35.5 million people who traveled last year. Kicking off the summer driving season, more than eight in ten travelers will be driving to their destinations. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 22nd to Monday, May 26th.
Highlights from 2014 Memorial Day Travel Forecast include:
Memorial Day holiday travel volume is expected to reach a new post-recession high with 36.1 million Americans taking a trip. The 2014 forecast is 2.6 percent higher than the ten-year historical average and the second highest travel volume since 2000. Eighty-eight percent of travelers (31.8 million) to travel by automobile, an increase from 31.4 million last year
Holiday air travel expected to increase from 2.4% to 2.6 million leisure travelers.
Travel by other modes of transportation including cruise, trains and buses will see the largest increase, up 6.5% (total 1.7 million travelers).
Travelers will encounter slightly higher prices with airfares six percent higher, mid-range hotels up two percent and car rentals costing 1% more.
AAA cites the severity and duration of this past winter as one of the leading factors that may be prompting Americans to get out and travel for the holiday, which is expected to hit a new post-recession high.
In addition to seasonal rising temperatures, improvements in several key economic factors are driving the expectation for more holiday travelers this year. Indicative of the unusually harsh winter, AAA experienced an increase of nearly 12% in battery related calls this winter.
Impact of Gasoline Prices on Travel Plans
AAA expects that most drivers will pay lower gas prices by Memorial Day weekend due to rising supplies. AAA expects holiday gas prices to be relatively similar or even slightly less than last year’s national Memorial Day average of $3.63 per gallon, though unexpected developments such as refinery problems or international events could result in higher costs. With many plans already made and budgets set, it is unlikely that gas prices will have a significant effect on travel plans compared to a year ago.
Travel Expenses Rise Modestly
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase just two percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $169 per night compared to $166 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen three percent with an average cost of $124 per night.
Weekend daily car rental rates will average $44, only 1% higher than last year. Airfares are experiencing the largest increase. The average round-trip, discounted fares for the top 40 U.S. routes have increased six percent to $227 from $215 last year.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by I.H.S. Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / I.H.S. Global Insight 2014 Memorial Day Travel Forecast can be found here.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.