After a long winter of being cooped up, people are more than ready to welcome the official start of summer with a Memorial Day road trip.
AAA projects that 36 million Americans are planning a vacation that weekend—a 1.5% increase over last year. Nearly 90% of those travelers will load up their cars and hit the open road in order to reach their destination.
During the recession, the staycation—in which people find fun activities to do close to home—became a popular option for cash-strapped families. But those days could be coming to an end. Over the upcoming holiday weekend nearly 32 million drivers will get behind the wheel and travel 50 miles or more from their homes.
Another 2.6 million people are expected to kick off their shoes for airport security as they prepare to take off for their first summer getaway of the season. Last year 2.4 million vacationers flew during Memorial Day weekend.
Alternate methods of transportation could see a spike
Although cars and planes are the most popular way to get where you’re going, they aren’t the only option. Trains, buses and cruise ships are predicted to see a big increase in traffic this weekend, with 1.7 million folks boarding a ship, bus or train—a 6.5% jump over 2013 stats.
Whether people decide to travel by air, sea, road or rail this weekend, gas prices aren’t expected to play much of a role in their decision. Most people’s itineraries are already in place, so AAA’s prediction that gas prices will stay steady or even dip a bit lower than last Memorial Day’s $3.63 per gallon average won’t affect their travel plans.
Airfare, on the other hand, is about 6% higher than it was last year, according to AAA. In 2013, the average round-trip discount plane ticket cost $215. This year, it’s $227. Mid-range hotels are slightly more expensive, at an average of 2% higher ($169 per night, compared with $166 in 2013), while car rentals are up by just 1% (averaging $44 a day on weekends).
AAA has been putting out holiday travel forecasts for more than 20 years, and has analyzed data from researchers and economic forecasters at IHS Global Insight for their Memorial Day Travel Forecast since 2009.