The American Automobile Association (AAA) projects that 39.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Memorial Day weekend. That is one 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 Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “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.
By the Numbers: Memorial Day Travel Forecast
- 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 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.
Travelers still hitting the road despite higher gas prices
While AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Memorial Day gas prices since 2015, the vast majority of holiday travelers (88.1 percent) are still planning to hit the road. Automobile travel will grow by 2.4 percent this Memorial Day, with 34.6 million Americans planning a holiday road trip. The national average price for a gallon of gas today is $2.34, 11 cents more than last year.
More Americans are planning to rent cars for their holiday road trips this year. AAA’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.
Large increases in flying and travel by other modes this Memorial Day
While road trips continue to reign supreme for Memorial Day, 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 this Memorial Day. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase 2.9 percent, to 1.75 million travelers.
Airfares, hotel and car rental rates on the rise
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 year.
AAA to rescue more than 330,000 motorists this Memorial Day
AAA expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists this Memorial Day weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues.
AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.
AAA and Waze share perspectives on holiday travel
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 vast majority of travelers are planning a Memorial Day road trip, and Americans will take advantage of the long holiday weekend this year. The top 5 US destinations for Memorial Day weekend, based on AAA travel bookings, are:
- Orlando, Florida
- Seattle, Washington
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- New York, New York
- 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 (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Orlando (MCO), Atlanta (ATL) and Denver (DEN), based on data from 2016.
About the travel forecast:
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-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 Markit 2017 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast is available here.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.