AAA: Nearly 43M Americans Will kick off summer with a Memorial Day getaway
Nearly 43 million Americans will kick off their summers with a Memorial Day weekend getaway, according to forecasts by AAA.
The long holiday weekend, marking the unofficial start of summer vacation season, will see the second-highest travel volume on record for the holiday since AAA began tracking volumes for Memorial Day travel in 2000. This year’s anticipated number of travelers is surpassed only by the record set in 2005. Overall, an additional 1.5 million more people will take to the nation’s roads, rails and runways compared with last year, a 3.6 percent increase.
“Americans are eagerly anticipating summer’s start and lower gas prices are fueling Memorial Day weekend travel,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, manager, public and government affairs, AAA Blue Grass. “Consumer spending remains strong, helped by solid job and income growth. Families continue to give priority to travel when they decide how they will spend their disposable income. Near-record numbers of them are looking forward to doing just that for Memorial Day.”
Orlando, New York City and Las Vegas are the top destinations in the U.S. this Memorial Day weekend, based on advance AAA Travel bookings. For those traveling internationally, Europe is the destination of choice, with Rome, London, Dublin and Paris the most popular locales.
Motorists urged to avoid peak travel times
The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations. INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, says these motorists can expect travel delays on major roads to be more than three times longer than normal during evening commute time. Large metro areas will experience the biggest delays.
“Travelers should anticipate delays to start on Wednesday and continue through Memorial Day. Our advice to drivers is to avoid the morning and evening commuting times or plan alternate routes,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst, INRIX.
INRIX predicts motorists will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday, May 23, and Friday, May 24, in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.
Planes, trains and automobiles: Travel forecast breakdown
Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 37.6 million or 88 percent of all travelers – will hit the road, the most on record for the holiday and 3.5 percent more than last year.
Planes: 3.25 million people will take to the skies, 4.8 percent more than last year, second only to 2005.
Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 3.8 percent to 1.9 million passengers.
AAA expected to rescue more than 353,000 motorists
AAA expects to be called on to rescue more than 353,000 motorists at the roadside nationwide this Memorial Day weekend. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. Last year, AAA took nearly 2,100 calls for assistance in just the Blue Grass area alone.
Motorists are urged to take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip.
AAA also offers the following tips to prepare for the kick off of summer travel season:
• Test your battery: Take advantage of AAA’s Mobile Battery Service, which offers free battery testing for AAA members.
• Plan your route: Use AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner tool to map a route for your trip. Travelers can also use the AAA Mobile app to take advantage of member discounts, recommended Drive trips and trusted AAA Travel guides.
• Get travel accessories and safety kits: Visit your local AAA office for an emergency road kit in case of a roadside breakdown. • Be prepared for emergencies with a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers and pets.
• Check the status of your AAA membership: Make sure the membership is up to date and review coverage level options to ensure lifestyle needs are met. AAA members can also save on popular tourist attraction tickets.
Travelers to enjoy lower hotel and car rental costs
In addition to lower gas prices in most areas compared to last year at this time, travelers could enjoy some other savings. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, car rental prices have declined 7 percent compared with last year, with an average daily rate of $55. Mid-range hotels are between 2 and 3 percent cheaper on average for AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated properties, respectively. Meanwhile, airfares are holding steady compared with last Memorial Day, for an average roundtrip price of $171.
According to Hertz, a AAA partner for 40-plus years, the busiest airport pick-up locations for travelers renting a car this Memorial Day are expected to be Orlando (MCO), Los Angeles (LAX), Denver (DEN), Las Vegas (LAS), and San Francisco (SFO). The busiest day for rental pick-ups is expected to be Friday, May 24, with an average rental length of nearly five days, as travelers look to take advantage of the long holiday weekend.