"As we enter into the summer travel season with warmer temperatures and tulips in bloom, thoughts of historic cold are still fresh in the minds of Americans in many parts of the country," said Marshall L. Doney, AAA's Chief Operating Officer. "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."
Indeed, the slowly improving economy and warmer weather has more than a few of us eager to travel. As always, the majority of Americans will be traveling by car; AAA predicts 31.8 million road trips will kick off this weekend. Rates of leisure air travel are anticipated to go up slightly, as well, from 2.4 million to 2.6 million flights. The largest increase will be in public transportation, with a predicted 6.5 percent uptick in people traveling by bus or train to their long weekend destinations.
AAA says that gas prices will be similar or perhaps even lower than this time last year. Last year's average was $3.65 per gallon, which is the level at which prices are currently holding. Gas prices typically decline around this time of year, as refineries wind down winter blends and start production on their lighter summer gasoline formula. Due to the switchover, prices should continue to fall throughout the spring, barring an international incident or refinery shut-down. The U.S. also has a record-high gasoline stockpile, which is helping drive supply up and costs down.
Travelers will feel a modest pinch when paying for certain other expenses, such as hotels or rental cars. AAA found that hotel costs rose three percent over last year, rental car costs rose one percent and airfare has risen six percent over 2013.