Highest Number of Road Trippers on Record to kick off Summer Travel Season
PORTLAND, Ore., – AAA projects that nearly 43 million Americans (13 percent of the population) will travel this Memorial Day weekend, the second-highest travel volume ever for the holiday, trailing only 2005. The number of travelers is up 3.6 percent from last year with an additional 1.5 million people taking to the nation’s roads and runways. Despite relatively expensive gas prices, AAA expects the highest number of road trippers on record as the vast majority will drive to their destinations. The busiest travel days will be Thursday and Friday, and travel delays on major roads could be two to three times busier than normal as commuters mix with holiday travelers.
In the Pacific Region, Region (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA), 7.2 million people (13.3 percent of the population) are expected to travel, a 4.3 percent increase compared to 2018. In Oregon, roughly 557,000 will travel over the long weekend. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27.
“Consumer spending remains strong, fueled by solid job and income growth. Families are choosing to spend their disposable incomes on travel, and near-record numbers will kick off summer with a Memorial Day getaway,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho. “This is the fifth year of growth in Memorial Day travel volume.”
Car travel is at record level for Memorial Day despite high gas prices
Memorial Day travel by automobile will be the most on record, topping the previously recorded high in 2005. This is the fifth consecutive year of growth in car travel for the holiday.
Nationally, 37.6 million or 88 percent of all travelers will drive to their holiday destinations, an increase of 3.5 percent compared to 2018.
In the Pacific region, 6.0 million or 83 percent will travel by car, an increase of 4.0 percent compared to last year.
AAA says even though gas prices are relatively expensive, they’re still similar to prices a year ago and are not keeping people home. “When gas prices are expensive, many travelers will find other ways to save some money, such as shortening the duration of a trip, staying closer to home, limiting restaurant meals and/or eating at moderately priced restaurants, trimming shopping budgets, and looking for free or low cost activities,” says Dodds.
The current national average is $2.86, while the current Oregon average is $3.43.
Thursday and Friday Afternoons are Busiest Times on the Roads
INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects travel delays on major roads could be two to three times longer than normal at times in cities as holiday travels mix with commuters. Busiest travel times will be Thursday and Friday afternoons (May 23 and 24) from about 3 to 7 p.m.
“Our advice to car travelers is to avoid leaving during the afternoon and early evening hours on Thursday and Friday if at all possible. Plan your trip so that you won’t have to drive through urban areas during these times. Realize that it will likely take longer than usual to reach your destination and count on lots of company on the roadways,” adds Dodds.
Travelers to see relief in lower hotel and car rental costs
While road trippers are paying more to fill up their vehicles at the gas pumps, some of that additional expense can be made up with lower prices on car rentals and hotels this Memorial Day, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index.
Mid-range hotels are between two and three percent cheaper this year, with an average nightly rate of $146 and $183, respectively, for AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated properties.
Car rental prices have declined seven percent compared with last year, with an average daily rate of $55.
According to Hertz, a more than 40-year AAA partner, the busiest airport pick-up locations for travelers renting a car this Memorial Day are expected to be Orlando (MCO), Los Angeles (LAX), Denver (DEN), Las Vegas (LAS), and San Francisco (SFO). The busiest day for rental pick-ups is expected to be Friday, May 24, with an average rental length of nearly five days, as travelers look to take advantage of the long holiday weekend.
Increases in flying and travel by other modes this Memorial Day; Airfares holding steady
Road trips are the most popular way to travel but more Americans will also fly, ride the train or bus, or take a cruise vacation compared to last year.
Air travel is up 4.8 percent over last year, with 3.25 million Americans taking to the skies this Memorial Day. In the Pacific Region, 730,000 travelers are expected to fly, an increase of 5.7 percent compared to last year.
Airfares are holding steady compared with last Memorial Day, for an average roundtrip price of $171.
Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase 3.8 percent, to 1.9 million travelers.
AAA to the rescue of 353,000 members this Memorial Day holiday
AAA expects to rescue more than 353,000 motorists nationally and 4,500 in Oregon this Memorial Day weekend, with the most common issues being dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires.
AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000
Be prepared for emergencies with a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers and pets. Share your itinerary with family or friends so that authorities know where to start looking for you if you don’t reach your destination.
Top Memorial Day destinations
These are the most popular destinations for members of AAA Oregon/Idaho this Memorial Day weekend, based on AAA.com and AAA travel agency sales:
- Seattle, Washington
- Phoenix, Arizona
- San Francisco, California
- Anaheim/Los Angeles, California
- Orlando, Florida
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Maui, Hawaii
- San Diego, California
- Anchorage, Alaska
For those planning to kick off their summers with an overseas vacation, Europe is the destination of choice. Rome, London, Dublin and Paris are the most popular international travel destinations for Memorial Day weekend. Closer to home, Vancouver and Victoria B.C. are also top choices.
Other favorite regional destinations for Memorial Day include the Oregon coast and central Oregon.
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, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at 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 and services.
About the travel forecast:
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit based in London. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes, using macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays.
The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2019 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast is available here.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.
Highlights from 2018 Memorial Day Travel Forecast:
- Memorial Day travel volume will be the second-highest on record with nearly 43 million Americans traveling, and 7.2 million from the Pacific Region. This is the busiest year since 2005.
- 2019 marks the fifth consecutive year of growth in Memorial Day travel with 3.5 percent more travelers nationally and 4.3 percent more in the Pacific Region than last year.
- The vast majority will travel by car. Nationally, 37.6 million or 88 percent of all travelers will drive to their holiday destinations, an increase of 3.5 percent compared to 2018.
- Gas prices for the holiday are relatively expensive but aren’t keeping people home.
- The busiest travel days will be Thursday and Friday, and travel delays on major roads could be more than three times busier than normal as commuters mix with holiday travelers.
- Air travel is up 4.8 percent over last year, with 3.25 million Americans taking to the skies this Memorial Day.
- Travel by cruises, trains and buses will increase 3.8 percent, to 1.9 million travelers.
- Top three destinations are Seattle, Phoenix and San Francisco.
- AAA will rescue 353,000 drivers nationally and 4,500 in Oregon this Memorial Day weekend, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires.
AAA news releases, high resolution images, broadcast-quality video, fact sheets and podcasts are available on the AAA NewsRoom at NewsRoom.AAA.com.