AAA: Busiest Memorial Day travel weekend since 2005 expected

AURORA, Ill. (May 17, 2017) – AAA projects that 39.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Memorial Day weekend. That is one million more travelers than last year taking to the roads, skies, rails and water, creating the highest Memorial Day travel volume since 2005. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 25 to Monday, May 29.

In Indiana, 850,000 people are expected to travel, which is up 2.5 percent from 2016. Of those travelers, 770,000 are expected to travel by auto (2.4 percent increase) and about 44,000 by air (3.7 percent increase). In Indiana, gas prices are on average $2.25 per gallon, down from $2.35 a month ago and about even with prices this time last year. The average price nationally for gas is $2.34.

The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year,” said Vicky Evans, Assistant Vice President, Travel Sales Department, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “So far in 2017, travel bookings with AAA in Illinois/Indiana are up 27 percent compared to the same period last year. Higher confidence and falling gas prices have bolstered consumer spending, leaving many Americans with more money to spend on travel this Memorial Day.”

By the Numbers: Memorial Day Travel Forecast:

  • 2017 will mark the third consecutive year of growth in Memorial Day travel with 2.7 percent more travelers than last year.
  • 34.6 million Americans (88.1 percent of travelers) will drive to their destinations, an increase of 2.4 percent over last year.
  • 2.9 million Americans are taking to the skies this Memorial Day, increasing air travel by 5.5 percent over last year.
  • 1.75 million travelers, an increase 2.9 percent from 2016, will look to other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses.
  • Drivers will pay the highest Memorial Day gas prices since 2015. Airfares, car rental rates and mid-range hotels are all trending higher than last Memorial Day.

While road trips continue to reign supreme for Memorial Day, more Americans will fly, ride the train or bus, or take a cruise vacation compared to last year. Air travel is expected to increase 5.5 percent over last year, with 2.9 million Americans taking to the skies this Memorial Day. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase 2.9 percent, to 1.75 million travelers.

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be 9 percent higher this Memorial Day, with an average round trip ticket landing at $181. Hotel costs have also increased since last Memorial Day, with the average AAA Three Diamond Rated hotel costing $215, or 18 percent more than last year. Daily car rental rates will average $66, which is 7 percent more than last year.

More Americans are planning to rent cars for their holiday road trips this year. AAA’s car rental bookings are 19 percent higher than last Memorial Day. According to Hertz, the busiest day for car rental pick-ups is expected to be Friday, May 26, based on last year’s data.