Internet Travel Monitor - Industry News

May 22, 2019

Nearly 43 Million Americans Will Kick Off the Season with a Memorial Day Vacation

AAA forecasts the most holiday road trippers on record;
INRIX predicts drive times could be more than three times longer than normal


Nearly 43 million Americans will start their summers on a high note with a Memorial Day weekend getaway. This long holiday weekend, marking the unofficial start of summer vacation season, will see the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes dating back to 2000, trailing only the bar 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% increase.

"This summer more Americans are planning to travel, seeking memorable experiences and adventures," said Montrae Waiters, spokeswoman, AAA-The Auto Club Group. "Consumer spending remains strong, helped by solid job and income growth. Families continue to prioritize spending their disposable incomes on travel, and near-record numbers of them are looking forward to doing just that for Memorial Day."

By the numbers: 2019 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast

Total numbers of travelers:

  • National: 43 million travelers

Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers will hit the road, the most on record for the holiday.

  • National: 37.6 million; 3.5% more than last year.

Planes:

  • National: 3.25 million people will take to the skies, 4.8% more than last year, second only to 2005.

Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships:

  • National: 3.8% increase to 1.9 million passengers

Worst times to hit the road:

For the 37.6 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers 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. Several major U.S. metros expect to experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip.

Higher gas prices won't keep holiday travelers home

Gas prices have increased by more than 30 cents in the last two months with the national average floating around $2.85- $2.89 over the last week, which is relatively on par with prices this time last year ($2.87 on May 14, 2018). However, 88% of travelers will choose to drive to their Memorial Day destinations this year, the most on record.

"When gas prices are higher, travelers may save money in other areas like spending less on entertainment, shopping or eating out," continued Waiters. "Overall, gas prices are very similar to this time last year and, like then, travelers are not letting that deter them from taking summer road trips."

Travelers to see relief in lower hotel and car rental costs

While road trippers are paying more to fill up their vehicles at the gas pump, some of that additional expense can be made up with lower prices on car rentals and hotels this Memorial Day. According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, car rental prices have declined 7% compared with last year, with an average daily rate of $55. Mid-range hotels are between 2% and 3% cheaper this year, with an average nightly rate of $146 and $183, respectively, for AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated properties. Meanwhile, airfares are holding steady compared with last Memorial Day, for an average roundtrip price of $171.

Top Memorial Day travel destinations

Orlando, New York City and Las Vegas can expect an influx of travelers for the holiday. These are the top destinations in the U.S. this Memorial Day weekend, based on advance AAA Travel bookings:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. New York, New York
  3. Las Vegas, Nevada
  4. Honolulu, Hawaii
  5. Anaheim, California
  6. Seattle, Washington
  7. Phoenix, Arizona
  8. Anchorage, Alaska
  9. Tampa, Florida
  10. San Francisco, California

For those travelers planning an international vacation for Memorial Day, Europe is the destination of choice. Rome, London, Dublin and Paris are the most popular locales for international vacations this Memorial Day weekend, with Vancouver, Canada, rounding out the top five.

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