Despite higher travel costs, more Americans are getting away for Memorial Day this year than have in the past 12 years.
New data from AAA shows that 39.3 million Americans plan to travel at least 50 miles for the holiday weekend, an increase of 2.7 percent from last year and the third consecutive year of growth. The increase in travel comes as gas prices, air fares, car rental rates and hotel rates are all increasing.
“The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year,” AAA senior vice president, travel and publishing, Bill Sutherland, said in a statement. “Higher confidence has led to more consumer spending, and many Americans are choosing to allocate their extra money to travel this Memorial Day.
Gas prices now average $2.34, 11 cents more than this time last year. The average round-trip price for a domestic flight is $181, a 9 percent increase, and the average AAA mid-range hotel costs $215 a night, an increase of 18 percent. Daily car rental rates will average $66 for the holiday weekend, up 7 percent from last year.
Nearly 35 million travelers will drive to their destinations during the holiday weekend, while about 3 million will fly. The increase in the number of travelers may lead to some traffic jams. Data from AAA and Waze indicate that Chicago, Los Angeles and New York are the busiest metro areas during the holiday weekend, especially on Thursday and Friday.