AAA Chicago is saying that despite high gas prices, the typically busy Memorial Day weekend roads will once again be full of travelers again this year. The AAA estimates that 38.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home over the holiday weekend (May 26-28), which is 1.7 percent more than last year. Most of these, about 32.1 million (84 percent) will travel by motor vehicle, which is 1.8 percent more than 2006 year. AAA says that flight prices are down five percent compared to last year. The Travel Industry Association of American surveyed 2,000 adults nationwide to get these results. There are more details from AAA after the jump.
So, what does this mean? Are high prices just not an issue when it comes to relaxing for the weekend? Are people saving money elsewhere to afford to travel? Do more people have fuel-efficient vehicles, so the high gas prices don't sting as much as they might? Or is it just tradition that puts us on the road this weekend, whatever the circumstances?
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AAA Chicago: Record High Gas Prices Won't Hinder Memorial Day Travel
AURORA, Ill., May 17 /PRNewswire/ -- More people will take to the roads this Memorial Day weekend than ever before, despite substantial increases in fuel costs, according to AAA Chicago. AAA estimates that 38.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday weekend, a 1.7 percent increase from last year. About 32.1 million travelers, or 84 percent of all holiday travelers, expect to go by motor vehicle, a 1.8 percent increase from the 31.5 million who drove a year ago.
"Motorists may save money by staying closer to home or cutting their budget in other areas, but the roadways will be filled with Memorial Day weekend travelers across the country," says Beth Mosher, spokeswoman for AAA Chicago.
Prices may fluctuate during the weekend. Currently in Illinois, the price of regular unleaded is $3.38 per gallon, up 42 cents from a year ago. In Indiana, a gallon of regular unleaded costs $3.29, which is a 40-cent increase from 2006. Nationally, regular unleaded gasoline is $3.11.
Another 4.4 million (11 percent of holiday travelers) plan to travel by airplane, up 1.0 percent from last Memorial Day. A projected 1.9 million (5 percent of all holiday travelers) vacationers will travel by train, bus, or other mode of transportation, about even with a year ago.
Travelers will get a bit of a break this holiday weekend when making their way to their destination. AAA's Leisure Travel Index shows flights over the holiday weekend averaging 5 percent less this year than last year, with the average flight costing $166. Car rental rates are expected to fall 16 percent from last year, with renters paying an average of $31, almost $6 less than last year. Hotel rates, however, will be up about 13 percent from a year ago, with travelers spending an average of $174 per night at AAA 3 Diamond hotels.
The average household that is traveling this Memorial Day Weekend will spend $594.
Many American households will be traveling with their children. In fact, 57 percent of households with children under 18 will bring them along on their Memorial Day vacation this year nationwide. Travelers from the Midwest region are most likely to travel with their children, with 66.6 percent saying they would be bringing their kids along. The Southeast follows close behind with 60 percent traveling with kids under 18. Fifty four percent of parents in the Northeast will travel with their children, while 53 percent of parents in the West say the same. The lowest percentage of families traveling with kids under 18 will be from the Great Lakes region, with 50 percent.
AAA's travel agents continue to see increased interest in summer travel compared to a year ago, especially in international travel, which continues to grow in popularity. In addition, cruise sales for AAA travel agencies are up 4.7 percent, online bookings have increased 35 percent and sales of trip insurance are up 4 percent during the same period last year.
The greatest number of Memorial Day auto travelers will originate in the West with 7.6 million travelers, followed by the Southeast with 6.9 million; Midwest, 6.8 million; Northeast, 6.0 million; and Great Lakes, 4.8 million.
The West is expected to produce the largest number of air travelers with 1.4 million, followed by the Midwest with 1.2 million; Southeast, 900,000; Northeast, 500,000; and Great Lakes, 400,000.
Research for Memorial Day travel is based on a national survey of 2,000 adults by the Travel Industry Association of American, which conducts special research for AAA.
AAA Chicago has represented roadway interests for motorists and pedestrians and serves as a leading advocate for various traffic safety and travel-related issues for more than a century.
For more information on any aspect of AAA Chicago's breadth of service including AAA's home, auto and life insurance products; travel-related services, AAA's Show Your Card & Save program; and/or any AAA membership service including emergency roadside assistance, please visit our Web site at http://www.aaa.com/ or call us toll-free at 1-866-YOUR-AAA (968-7222).