Memorial Day travel is set to mark a healthy start to the summer travel season, with 37.2 million travelers marking a 4.7 percent increase over last year and the highest volume in 10 years, according to a forecast by AAA.
“Following a harsh winter, many Americans are trading in their snow boots for flip flops and making plans to start the season with a vacation getaway,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA president. “AAA is expecting more Memorial Day travelers this year than any time in the past 10 years as confident consumers come out of hibernation ready to explore national parks, beach destinations and America’s great cities.”
A number of economic factors are contributing to the large increase in holiday travelers this year. “A strong employment market and low gas prices have driven consumer optimism to new highs and boosted Americans’ disposable income. This is welcome news for the travel industry,” continued Doney.
Impact of gasoline prices: Travelers continue to benefit from substantially lower gas prices compared to recent years. Today’s national average price is $2.66, $1.00 less than the average price for Memorial Day 2014. AAA predicts most U.S. travelers will pay the cheapest Memorial Day gas prices in at least five years.
Tips for drivers: More than 88 percent (33 million) of holiday travelers will drive to their destination, a 5.3 percent increase from 2014. AAA expects to rescue nearly 350,000 motorists at the roadside this Memorial Day weekend, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists inspect their vehicle and check battery and tire condition before heading out on a holiday getaway. Members can download the AAA mobile app (AAA.com/mobile), visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance in the event of a breakdown.
Hotel and car rental rates increase, airfares fall slightly: According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, the average nightly stay in a Two Diamond hotel is 16 percent higher this year at $144, while Three Diamond hotels will cost seven percent more, averaging $182. Average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes are two percent cheaper this year, falling to $222.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-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 Global Insight 2015 Memorial Day Travel Forecast can be found here.