Holiday Travel Trends

AAA Projects a 4.7 Percent Increase for Memorial Day Travel

AAA Travel projects 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.

AAA AAA Travel projects 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.

In Illinois, 1.9 million people will be traveling for the holiday weekend, which is a 4.7 increase from 2014. Of those travelers, 1.7 million will be driving (up 5.3 percent from 2014) and 97,000 will be flying to their destination (a 2.4 percent increase from 2014). Gas prices across Illinois are on average $2.71, down substantially from $3.84 in 2014.

In Indiana, 824,000 people are expected to travel, which is a 5.4 percent increase from 2014. Of those, 747,000 are expected to travel by auto (5.9 percent increase) and about 43,000 by air (3 percent increase). In Indiana, gas prices are on average $2.50 per gallon, down from $3.63 this time last year. The average price nationally for gas is $2.64.

AAA Infographic - Memorial Day Travel

Highlights from 2015 Memorial Day Travel Forecast include:

  • The 2015 Memorial Day forecast is expected to mark the highest travel volume for the holiday in 10 years, since 2005.
  • Illinois and Indiana drivers will likely pay the lowest Memorial Day gas prices in at least five years. AAA estimates that U.S. households have spent about $400 less on gasoline, due to lower prices so far this year, in comparison to the same period in 2014.
  • 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 average daily car rental and lodging costs this year, while airfares are down slightly compared to Memorial Day 2014.
“AAA is expecting more Memorial Day travelers this year than any time in the past 10 years as consumers come out of hibernation ready to explore national parks, beach destinations and America’s great cities,” said Beth Mosher, director of public affairs for AAA Chicago. “A strong employment market and low gas prices have driven consumer confidence to new highs and boosted Americans’ disposable income. This is welcome news for the travel industry.”

Hotel and car rental rates increase, airfares fall slightly

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, the average daily car rental rate this Memorial Day is $19 higher than last year. 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.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-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 Global Insight 2015 Memorial Day Travel Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com. For more information about AAA Travel, visit AAA.com/Travel.

In addition to seasonal rising temperatures, improvements in several key economic factors are driving the expectation for more holiday travelers this year. The unforgiving winter was a hindrance to economic growth at the beginning of the year but economic factors influenced by weather, such as car and home sales, appear to be resolving themselves now. Indicative of the unusually harsh winter, AAA experienced an increase of nearly 12 percent in battery related calls this winter.

“The winter blues appear to have given Americans the travel bug and a case of cruise cabin fever as travel for the holiday is expected to hit a new post-recession high,” said Brad Roeber, AAA Chicago Regional President. “As the economy continues to improve at a slow and steady pace consumer spending, disposable income, consumer confidence and the employment outlook are trending up which is welcomed news for the travel industry.”

Travel expenses rise modestly

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase just two percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $169 per night compared to $166 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen three percent with an average cost of $124 per night. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $44, only one percent higher than last year. Airfares are experiencing the largest increase. The average round-trip, discounted fares for the top 40 U.S. routes have increased six percent to $227 from $215 last year.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight 2014 Memorial Day Travel Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.



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