AAA Travel projects 34.8 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 0.9 percent decrease from the 35.1 million people who traveled last year. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27.
“AAA is forecasting Memorial Day travel to experience a slight dip as lower gas prices and economic improvements from last year are not strong enough to spur an increase in travelers,” said AAA.
Highlights from AAA's 2013 Memorial Day Travel Forecast include:
• Memorial Day holiday travelers to total 34.8 million, a decrease of 0.9 percent from the 35.1 million who traveled last year
• Eighty-nine percent of travelers (31.2 million) to travel by automobile, an increase from 31.1 million last year
• Holiday air travel expected to decrease eight percent to 2.3 million from 2.5 million in 2012
• Median spending is expected to decrease more than six percent to $659, compared to $702 in 2012 with transportation costs consuming about 28 cents of every travel dollar.
• Travelers intend to journey an average of 690 miles which is higher than last year’s average of 642 miles.
• Memorial Day holiday travel volume is expected to remain above the 12-year historical average of 34.7 million.
• 4.1 million will travel from the Mid Atlantic (NY, NJ, PA) region, 0.9 percent less than last year.
Approximately 31.2 million people plan to drive to their destination, an increase of 0.25 percent from the 31.1 million who drove last year. 3.7 million from the Mid Atlantic region will drive, a slight (0.2 %) decline from last year. Almost nine out of ten holiday travelers (89 percent) will take to the nation’s roadways during the Memorial Day weekend, keeping automobile travel in the traditional lead as the dominant mode of holiday travel transportation, AAA says.
A survey of intended travelers found that gasoline prices would have no impact on plans for 62 percent of travelers. Of the remaining 38 percent of travelers who said gas prices would impact their travel plans, 27 percent plan to economize in other areas. Eight percent are planning to take a shorter trip and three percent will travel by an alternate mode of transportation, AAA reports.
Since national gas prices peaked at the end of February, motorists nationwide have felt welcome relief at the pump. But, a recent uptick has prices eight cents higher than a week ago with the current national average of $3.66. Gas in New York City averages $3.84, up two cents from last week.
More than 2.3 million leisure air travelers (more than seven percent of holiday travelers) will arrive at their destination by air, an eight percent decrease from last year’s 2.5 million air travelers. The remaining four percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.
According to the survey of intending travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Memorial Day holiday weekend is expected to be 690 miles, which is 48 miles more than last year’s average of 642 miles.
Median spending is expected to decrease as travelers prioritize family and friends, AAA says. Median spending during the Memorial Day holiday weekend is expected to be $659, six percent less than the $702 median spending last year. Transportation is expected to consume approximately 28 cents of every dollar. Travelers expect to spend 22 percent on food and beverage and 20 percent on lodging.
During the holiday weekend, more than half of intending travelers will plan to partake in visiting with friends/family (59 percent) and dining (55 percent). Other popular activities include shopping (44 percent), going to the beach (32 percent) and touring and sightseeing (27 percent).
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase over four percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $166 per night compared to $160 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels remained unchanged with an average cost of $120 per night. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $43, 19 percent more than last year and the highest rate recorded for the holiday since 2009.