Family traveling by car on vacation. (photo via eli_asenova / Getty Images)
Officials from AAA Travel expect 39.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, running between May 26-30.
The estimates would indicate an increase of 8.3 percent over 2021, with air travel up 25 percent over last year. With totals expected to be slightly lower than pre-pandemic levels, AAA urges travelers to book now and remember flexibility is key for the holiday period.
“Memorial Day is always a good predictor of what’s to come for summer travel,” AAA Travel senior vice president Paula Twidale said. “Based on our projections, summer travel isn’t just heating up, it will be on fire. People are overdue for a vacation and they are looking to catch up on some much-needed R&R in the coming months.”
Memorial Day weekend travel data. (photo via AAA Travel Media)
Preliminary data shows the percentage of people traveling by air should surpass 2019 levels, with 7.7 percent of travelers choosing air travel as their preferred mode, up from 7.5 percent before the pandemic shut down travel.
Despite gas prices reaching historical totals, AAA Travel revealed 34.9 million Americans plan to travel by car, a jump of 4.6 percent over 2021. The share of car travel is expected to fall from 92.1 percent last year to 88.9 percent this year, indicating that higher gas prices are impacting how people choose to travel for the unofficial start of summer.
“Air travel has faced several challenges since the beginning of the year,” Twidale continued. “With the type of volume we anticipate, we continue to recommend the safety net of a travel agent and travel insurance. Both are a lifesaver if something unexpectedly derails your travel plans.”
Demand is also surging, causing prices to climb for flights, car rentals, accommodations, tours, cruises and other activities. AAA’s study found average airfare is up six percent, mid-range hotel rates have climbed 43 percent and daily car rental prices have increased 170 percent.
The Vacationer also released its Memorial Day 2022 Travel Survey, which found that nearly 57 percent of American adults said they would take a road trip during the holiday weekend, totaling more than 146 million people.
The study also found that almost 54 percent of respondents said high gas prices are impacting travel plans, with 13.11 percent revealing rising fuel costs and airfares have influenced their decision to fly commercially.
May 26 and 27 are shaping up to be the busiest days for traveling via car during the Memorial Day period, while the Thursday before the holiday will be the busiest for commercial air travelers.
As for the top domestic destinations, AAA Travel compiled a Top10 list, which includes (in order) Orlando, Seattle, Miami, Las Vegas, Anaheim, New York, Denver, Anchorage, Boston and Honolulu.
Americans are also heading overseas, with the top international destinations including Vancouver, Dublin, Paris, Rome, London, Cancun, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Nassau and Calgary.
Data from Arrivalist also showed the nature of road trips has changed over the past year, with travelers booking more overnight stays and fewer day trips, a decline in road trips over 250 miles away and a higher volume of midweek travel.