Memorial Day travel volumes will reach 14-year highs; Gas prices are 20 cents less than last year's holiday
TAMPA, Fla., (May 15, 2019) — A strong economy and weaker gas prices should help boost travel numbers this Memorial Day holiday weekend. The Auto Club Group forecasts the strongest kick-off to the summer travel season since 2005, and the second-largest travel volume on record – dating back to 2000.
Florida Travel Figures
- Total Travelers – 2.3 million Floridians; 86,000 (3.9%) more than last year
- Auto Travelers – 2 million Floridians; 76,000 (3.9%) more than last year
- Air Travelers – 184,443 Floridians; 9,000 (5.3%) more than last year
- Other Travelers – 60,655 Floridians; 321 (0.5%) more than last year
National Travel Figures
- Total Travelers – 42.8 million Americans; 1.5 million (3.6%) more than last year
- Auto Travelers – 37.6 million Americans; 1.3 million (3.5%) more than last year
- Air Travelers – 3.25 million Americans; 150,000 (4.8%) more than last year
- Other Travelers – 1.9 million Americans; 69,000 (3.8%) more than last year
“Floridians are eagerly anticipating the start of summer, and gas prices should not be a deterrent,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Consumer spending remains strong, helped by solid job and income growth. Families continue to allocate their disposable incomes on travel, and a near-record number of them will do just that for Memorial Day.”
Drivers beware: Worst times to hit the road
For the 37.6 million Americans traveling by automobile, AAA predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24 in the late afternoons as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Some of the most congested areas will be popular attractions, theme parks and beaches. Drivers returning home are most likely to encounter congested roads on Sunday or Monday afternoons.
Declining gas prices should help holiday travelers
Florida drivers could find the lowest Memorial Day gas prices in two years. Last year, the state average for gasoline on Memorial Day was $2.91 per gallon. Yesterday (Tuesday, May 14), the average price was slightly below $2.70/g - the lowest daily average price in two months. The 20 cent difference amounts to a savings of $3 for a full 15-gallon tank of gasoline. Visit Gasprices.AAA.com to view current and historical gas prices.
"Holiday travelers who save at the pump generally reallocate that money toward lodging, shopping or dining out," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "Cheaper gasoline could also help convince undecided travelers to take a trip for the holiday. Gas prices are steadily declining, and there’s a good chance that holiday gas prices remain below last year’s levels. However, the fuel market is still quite volatile, and there’s plenty of time for prices to rise again."
In 2018, the most expensive gas prices of the year were in the days leading up to Memorial Day weekend. The 2018-high of $2.92 per gallon was recorded the Friday before Memorial Day. The biggest difference between now and then is the price of oil, which is about $10 per barrel less than a year ago. In 2017, the trend was different. The highest prices of spring 2017 were in April.
|Historical Memorial Day Gas Prices||2015||2016||2017||2018|
Travelers to see relief in lower hotel and car rental costs
Similar to the downturn in gas prices, hotel and car rental prices are lower this year, while airfares hold steady. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index:
- Car rental prices have declined 7% compared to 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.
- Airfares are holding steady compared with last Memorial Day, for an average round trip price of $171.
Orlando to have busiest rental car pick-up location
According to Hertz, a more than 40-year AAA partner, 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.
AAA to rescue more than 353,000 motorists
AAA expects to rescue more than 353,000 motorists at the roadside this Memorial Day weekend. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble.
AAA recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any necessary maintenance before heading out on a road trip. 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.
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:
- Orlando, Florida
- New York, New York
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Anaheim, California
- Seattle, Washington
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Anchorage, Alaska
- Tampa, Florida
- San Francisco, California
Europe is the destination of choice, for Americans who are planning an international trip this Memorial Day. 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.
For travelers who are planning a summer trip, AAA’s podcast “Well-traveled with AAA” provides expert insights on the experiences, sights, and sounds of popular destinations and how to make the most of your vacation. Podcast topics include National Parks, Ireland, river cruising, sustainable travel and more. Visit AAA.com/WellTraveled to learn more.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. For the purposes of this forecast, the Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27. In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes, using macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2019 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast is available here.
About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, insurance, financial services and travel offerings to over 9.9 million members across eleven states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 59 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. Visit AAA on the Internet at AAA.com.