According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), over 37.2 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 4.7 percent increase from the 35.5 million people who traveled last year and the highest travel volume for the holiday in 10 years. Kicking off the summer driving season, 33 million travelers will be driving to their destinations. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 21 to Monday, May 25.
AAA 2015 Memorial Day Travel Forecast:
The 2015 Memorial Day forecast is expected to mark the highest travel volume for the holiday in 10 years, since 2005.
Most drivers will likely pay the lowest Memorial Day gas prices in at least five years. Today's national average price of gas is $2.66, $1.00 less than the average price on Memorial Day last year.
The 4.7 percent increase over Memorial Day 2014 is the highest forecast growth rate for any of the holidays tracked by AAA since Independence Day 2012.
More than 88 percent of travelers (33 million) will travel by automobile, an increase of 5.3 percent over last Memorial Day.
Holiday air travel is expected to increase 2.5 percent to 2.6 million leisure travelers.
Travel by other modes of transportation including cruises, trains and buses, is expected to decrease 3.6 percent this Memorial Day, to 1.64 million.
Travelers will encounter higher lodging costs this year, while airfares are down slightly compared to Memorial Day 2014.
"Following a harsh winter, many Americans are trading in their snow boots for flip flops and making plans to start the season with a vacation getaway," said Marshall L. Doney, AAA President. "AAA is expecting more Memorial Day travelers this year than any time in the past 10 years as confident consumers come out of hibernation ready to explore national parks, beach destinations and America's great cities."
A number of economic factors are contributing to the large increase in holiday travelers this year. "A strong employment market and low gas prices have driven consumer optimism to new highs and boosted Americans' disposable income. This is welcome news for the travel industry," continued Doney.
Impact of gasoline prices
Travelers continue to benefit from substantially lower gas prices compared to recent years. Today's national average price is $2.66, $1.00 less than the average price for Memorial Day 2014. AAA predicts most U.S. travelers will pay the cheapest Memorial Day gas prices in at least five years.
Tips for drivers
More than 88 percent (33 million) of holiday travelers will drive to their destination, a 5.3 percent increase from 2014. AAA expects to rescue nearly 350,000 motorists at the roadside this Memorial Day weekend, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists inspect their vehicle and check battery and tire condition before heading out on a holiday getaway.
Hotel rates increase, airfares fall slightly
According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, the average nightly stay in a Two Diamond hotel is 16 percent higher this year at $144, while Three Diamond hotels will cost seven percent more, averaging $182. Average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes are two percent cheaper this year, falling to $222.