Marilyn Buskohl
Public Affairs Director
O: (605) 310-4614
C: (605) 367-3964
Marilyn.buskohl@aaasd.org

May 17, 2017 – AAA projects 39.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more 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 2017 forecast is 29 percent higher than the 2009 post-recession low of 30.5 million. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 25 to Monday, May 29.

“The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year,” said Marilyn Buskohl, spokeswoman for AAA South Dakota. “Higher confidence has led to more consumer spending and many of us are putting that extra cash into travel over the holiday.”

2017 Projected Memorial Day Holiday Travelers

NUMBER OF TRAVELERS

Total Population

2017 Travelers

Percent of
population traveling

Percent change vs. 2016

U.S. – TOTAL

325.4 million*

39.3 million

12.1%

+2.7%

U.S. – Auto

88.1% will travel by car

34.6 million

10.6%

+2.4%

U.S. – Air

7.4% will travel by air

2.9 million

0.9%

+5.5%

*U.S. Census Bureau/IHS Global Insight

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 Americans, 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.

Travelers still hitting the road despite higher gas prices
While AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Memorial Day gas prices since 2015, the vast majority of holiday travelers (88.1 percent) are still planning to hit the road. Automobile travel will grow by 2.4 percent this Memorial Day, with 34.6 million Americans planning a holiday road trip. The national average price for a gallon of gas was $2.34 per gallon yesterday, 12 cents 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.

Large increases in flying and travel by other modes this 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.

Airfares, hotel and car rental rates on the rise
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.

AAA to rescue more than 330,000 motorists this Memorial Day
AAA expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists nationwide this Memorial Day weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America.

AAA and Waze share perspectives on holiday travel
According to Waze, the free, real-time crowdsourced traffic and navigation app, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York are the busiest metro areas this Memorial Day weekend, based on last year’s crash and traffic jam data. For travelers visiting or driving through these cities, be aware of high traffic volumes on Thursday and Friday – New York City sees an average 27 percent increase in collision alerts on these two days.

Many Memorial Day vacationers traveling abroad this year
While the vast majority of travelers are planning a Memorial Day road trip, many other Americans will take advantage of the long holiday weekend and travel internationally, with Europe especially popular this year. The top destinations for Memorial Day weekend, based on AAA Travel bookings, are:

  1. Orlando, Fla.
  2. Rome, Italy
  3. London, England
  4. Dublin, Ireland
  5. Vancouver, Canada
  6. Seattle, Wash.
  7. Las Vegas, Nev.
  8. New York, N.Y.
  9. Paris, France
  10. Honolulu, Hawaii

According to Hertz, the busiest airport pick-up locations for travelers planning to rent a car this Memorial Day are expected to be Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Orlando (MCO), Atlanta (ATL) and Denver (DEN), based on data from 2016.

Download the AAA Mobile app before a Memorial Day getaway
Before setting out for Memorial Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance and find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities. Visit AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally-trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities, prices and services.

About the travel forecast:
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast is available here.

AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and nearly 97,000 members in South Dakota.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  AAA is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information, visit www.AAA.com.

TEDx Wilmington Salon

Who's in the Driver's Seat? The Transformation of Transportation

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, AAA and TEDx Wilmington held the first TEDx Salon dedicated to ideas worth spreading in transportation.

This event had:

  • 12 live talks given by 13 speakers
  • 368 people in attendance at the live event
  • More than 7,500 viewed the event online through Livestream, viewing events, and on the AAA Associate network
  • Online viewers came from all 50 states and approximately 30 countries around the world

View a slideshow from the event

This TEDx WilmingtonSalon was organized in partnership with AAA

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