37.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this Memorial Day holiday

More Americans will travel this Memorial Day holiday despite high gas prices and increasing vacation costs, according to AAA. AAA estimates that 37.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a 0.9 percent increase from last year.

Approximately 31.4 million travelers (84 percent of all holiday travelers) expect to go by motor vehicle, a 0.7 percent increase from the 31.2 million who drove a year ago. Another 4.3 million (11 percent of holiday travelers) plan to travel by airplane, up 1.5 percent from last Memorial Day. A projected 1.9 million (5 percent of all holiday travelers) vacationers will travel by train, bus, or other mode of transportation, about even with a year ago.

Holiday auto travelers will find gas prices nationwide currently averaging $2.93 for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline—up 17 cents from a month ago and more than 75 cents higher than this time last year.

Air travelers will also be paying more to fly this weekend. AAA’s Leisure Travel Index shows flights over the holiday weekend averaging 10 percent more this year than last year. Hotel rates will also be up about 5% from a year ago. The greatest increase will be seen in rental car rates - up about 19 percent from a year ago – adding almost $6 to the average daily car rental rate, the highest average rate for Memorial Day weekend in the past six years.

AAA’s travel agents continue to see increased interest in summer travel compared to a year ago, especially in international travel, which continues to grow in popularity. In addition, cruise sales for AAA travel agencies are up 4.7 percent, online bookings have increased 35 percent and sales of trip insurance are up 4 percent during the same period last year.

The greatest number of Memorial Day auto travelers will originate in the West with 7.5 million travelers, followed by the Southeast with 6.9 million; Midwest, 6.7 million; Northeast, 5.8 million; and Great Lakes, 4.6 million.

The West is expected to produce the largest number of air travelers with 1.4 million, followed by the Midwest with 1.2 million; Southeast, 853,000; Northeast, 555,000; and Great Lakes, 400,000.

Cities top the list of preferred destinations this holiday with 23 percent of travel volume. Small towns and rural areas took a close second with 22 percent, followed by ocean/beach at 16 percent; mountain areas, 8 percent; and lakes, 13 percent. State/national parks, 1 percent, and theme/amusement parks, 6 percent rounded out the list. Another 10 percent responded with other, and 2 percent said they didn’t know.

Guest bedrooms across the country will be full this Memorial Day holiday as 41 percent of travelers expect to stay with friends or relatives. Hotel/motels rank second with 35 percent; followed by cabin/condo, 8 percent; no overnight stay, 7 percent; and camper/trailer/RV/tent, 5 percent. Another 1 percent responded with other and 2 percent didn’t know.

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