AAA forecasts the most holiday road trippers on record; INRIX predicts drive times could be more than three times longer than normal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 15, 2019) — 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.
“Americans will kick off this summer much like last year— with a summer road trip,” said Stephanie Milani, Tennessee public affairs director, AAA—The Auto Club Group. “Consumer spending remains strong, helped by solid job and income growth. Families continue to prioritize spending their disposable income 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
- Tennessee: 863,565 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.
- Tennessee: 752,134, 3% increase more than last year.
- National: 3.25 million people will take to the skies, 4.8% more than last year, second only to 2005.
- Tennessee: 80,621 Tennesseans will travel by air, a 7.1% increase over last year.
- Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships:
- National: 3.8% increase to 1.9 million passengers
- Tennessee: 0.5% increase to 30,810 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 – including Atlanta, GA – 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,” added Milani. “Overall, gas prices are very similar to this time last year and, like then, travelers aren’t 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:
New York, New York
Las Vegas, Nevada
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.
Travelers still in the planning phase can tune into AAA’s podcast “Well-traveled with AAA” which 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 to rescue more than 353,000 motorists
AAA expects to be called on 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 motorist take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed 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.
Methodology: 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 AAA: AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.
About INRIX: INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.
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 9.8 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.