The great American road trip is back; Memorial Day travel volume will be second-highest on record.
AAA projects more than 38 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend. That is the second-highest Memorial Day travel volume on record and the most since 2005. Spurred by the lowest gas prices in more than a decade, about 700,000 more people will travel compared to last year. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 26 to Monday, May 30.
“Americans are eagerly awaiting the start of summer and are ready to travel in numbers not seen in more than a decade,” said Marshall Doney, AAA President and CEO. “The great American road trip is officially back thanks to low gas prices, and millions of people from coast to coast are ready to kick off summer with a Memorial Day getaway.”
AAA estimates that Americans have saved more than $15 billion on gas so far this year compared to the same period in 2015, and prices are at the lowest levels in 11 years. The strong labor market and rising personal income are also motivating people to travel for Memorial Day this year.
Low gas prices driving increase in auto travel this Memorial Day
Nearly 34 million (89 percent) holiday travelers will drive to their Memorial Day destinations, an increase of 2.1 percent over last year as a result of lower gas prices. Air travel is expected to increase 1.6 percent over last year, with 2.6 million Americans taking to the skies this Memorial Day. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will fall 2.3 percent, to 1.6 million travelers.
Lowest Memorial Day gas prices in 11 years expected
The national average price for a gallon of gasoline today is $2.26, 45 cents less than last year. AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest Memorial Day gas prices since 2005. According to a recent AAA survey, 55 percent of Americans say they are more likely to take a road trip this year due to lower gas prices.
Airfares, hotel and car rental rates
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be 26 percent cheaper this Memorial Day, with an average roundtrip ticket costing $165. Hotel costs are in line with last Memorial Day. AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels will average $183, while a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel will average $151 nightly. Daily car rental rates will average $62, three percent less than last year.
Memorial Day travelers heading to warm weather destinations & cities
Many Memorial Day travelers will head to warm weather destinations and historic American cities to kick off their summer travels. The top destinations this Memorial Day weekend, based on AAA.com and AAA travel agency sales, are:
- Myrtle Beach
- Washington, D.C.
- New York
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
- South Padre Island
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 2016 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast can be found here.