Memorial Day travel volume will be second-highest on record, most since 2005

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19 May 2016
BURNSVILLE, Mn. (May 19, 2016) – 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.

Fast Facts
  • The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 26 to Monday, May 30
  • An estimated 38,033,000 Americans will travel 50 miles or more. That is the second-highest travel volume on record for this holiday behind 2005, when there were 44,041,000 travelers
  • About 700,000 more people will travel than last year’s holiday (1.8% increase)
  • The growth is led by the lowest gas prices in 11 years and a strong labor market - boosting incomes and consumer spending
  • 33.9 million Americans will drive, raising the share of auto travelers to a record-setting 89 percent for the holiday
  • 2.6 million Americans will fly (1.6% increase). AAA counts actual travelers not enplanements, in which every time someone steps on a plane they are counted as a traveler
  • 1.6 million will use other modes of transportation like cruises, trains and buses (a decline of 2.3%)
  • Average airfares for the holiday weekend are 26 percent lower than the same time last year ($165 vs $222)
  • Car rental rates ($62) are a dollar lower than last year
  • 3 Diamond Hotel rates ($183) are one dollar more than last year
  • 2 Diamond Hotel rates ($151) are $7 more than last year
“Millions of Americans are eager to kick-off the unofficial start of the summer travel season by taking a Memorial Day getaway,” said Joe Richardson, President and CEO, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “We are forecasting an increase in holiday travelers for the second consecutive year, and the most in 11 years, largely due to low gas prices, a growing labor market and rising personal incomes. If these factors continue, the travel industry should enjoy a booming summer season.”
Low gas prices drive 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.

“Although the overall number of holiday travelers is growing, we’re seeing the highest share of auto travelers in history, because the price of gasoline is so low,” said Gail Weinholzer, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Driving can be more economical for larger families than buying multiple plane tickets, plus you have more flexibility in changing trip duration and distance.”

Lowest Memorial Day gas prices in 11 years expected
AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest Memorial Day gas prices since 2005. The national average price for a gallon of gasoline on Memorial Day 2015 was $2.74 and $3.66 the year before (find today’s average prices).

“Gas prices peak in most years before Memorial Day, which means we could see gas prices decline later this summer if normal trends apply,” said Weinholzer. “The big wild card is the cost of crude oil, and no one has a good idea of where crude oil prices are headed later this year. If crude oil keeps going up, then we would see higher gas prices, but if crude remains flat then most drivers should pay the cheapest summertime gas prices in 11 years.”

AAA estimates that Americans have saved more than $18 billion on gas so far this year compared to the same period in 2015. During the first three months of 2016, Americans paid the cheapest quarterly gas prices in 11 years. 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 fall significantly this Memorial Day  
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 an AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel will average $151 nightly. Daily car rental rates will average $62, three percent less than last year.

AAA to rescue more than 350,000 motorists this Memorial Day
AAA expects to rescue more than 350,000 motorists during the Memorial Day holiday travel period, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires. AAA recommends motorists check the condition of their battery and tires before heading out on a road trip. Also, have vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.
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 and AAA travel agency sales, are:
  • Orlando
  • Myrtle Beach
  • Washington, D.C.
  • New York
  • Miami
  • San Francisco
  • Boston
  • Honolulu
  • Los Angeles
  • South Padre Island

Download the AAA Mobile app before a Memorial Day getaway
Before setting out for Memorial Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at

Find AAA Approved Hotels
With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants via TripTik Travel Planner. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

About the Travel Forecast
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.
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, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to over 9 million members across 11 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 nearly 56 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.