15 May 2019

Nearly 43 million Americans will start their summer on a high note with a Memorial Day weekend getaway.

The long holiday weekend -- marking the unofficial start of summer vacation season -- will see an additional 1.5 million people take to the nation’s roads, rails and runways compared with last year, a 3.6% increase. It will represent the second-highest travel volume ever recorded by AAA, trailing only the 44 million travelers posted in 2005.

For the purpose of the survey, the Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Thursday, May 23, through Monday, May 27. AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes in 2000.

“Americans are eagerly anticipating the start of summer, and expensive gas prices won’t keep them home this Memorial Day weekend,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “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.”

The Numbers

Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 37.6 million – will hit the road, the most on record for the holiday and 3.5% more than last year.
Planes: 3.25 million people will take to the skies, 4.8% more than last year, second only to 2005.
Other Modes: Travel by trains, buses and cruise ships will increase by 3.8% to 1.9 million passengers.

Drivers Beware
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.

Gas Price Impact
Gas prices have increased by more than 30 cents in the last two months with the national average approaching $3 per gallon ($2.86 today), which is relatively on par with prices this time last year ($2.89). Prices across the Midwest are somewhat lower than the national average. Examples include Iowa, $2.68; Minnesota, $2.72; Nebraska, $2.75; and North Dakota, $2.77.

Despite the higher gas prices, 88 percent of travelers will choose to drive to their Memorial Day destinations this year, the most on record.

Travel Tips
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. 

Roadside Rescues
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.

 

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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.