There will be more American travelers this Memorial Day holiday weekend, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). But they won’t be traveling as far, and travelers’ advisory—they may be opting to stay with family and friends instead of shelling out for a hotel.
The Memorial Day holiday weekend is the traditional kick-off to the summer travel season. It ranks among the top five driving holidays of the year, AAA spokesperson Michael Green told Millionaire Corner. (Thanksgiving is No. 1).
AAA projects that 34.8 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this weekend, an increase of 1.2 percent—or 500,000 travelers—over last year.
The automobile rules when it comes to holiday travel transportation. Eight-eight percent of travelers will be driving, AAA projects. Approximately 30.7 million people plan to drive to their holiday destination, an increase of 1.2 percent from the 30.3 million who drove last year.
After recent increases, gas prices have dipped in the week leading up to the holiday weekend. The current national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is about 25 cents lower than this time last year, AAA said.
More than half (53 percent) of respondents said that gas prices would not impact their travel plans. Of the remaining 47 percent who said they are taking gas prices into account, 34 percent said they will economize in other areas. Of these, 65 percent said they will cut back on entertainment, while 34 percent said they will stay at a lower-priced hotel. Thirty-one percent will opt for staying with friends and relatives, and 27 percent will choose a hotel that includes value-added amenities such as free breakfast and wi-fi.
The impact of gas prices is, not surprisingly, more significant on lower income travelers who plan a Memorial Day holiday weekend trip. AAA survey results found that the share of expected holiday travelers in the under-$50,000 income bracket has fallen to 26 percent, a drop of five percent from last year. In comparison, the share of travelers in households with more than $100,000 increased six percent to 36 percent.
And what of air travelers? AAA projects that more than 2.5 million travelers will fly this Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 5.5 percent decrease from 2011.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.