AAA: Nearly 44 million to travel over Memorial Day holiday

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AAA projects nearly 43.8 million people will travel 50 or more miles from home during the Memorial Day holiday.

According to a AAA press release, the number of travelers is a 4% increase over 2023 and will be near the record amount of 44 million people who traveled over the Memorial Day holiday travel period in 2005.

“We haven’t seen Memorial Day weekend travel numbers like these in almost 20 years,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, in the press release. “We’re projecting an additional one million travelers this holiday weekend compared to 2019, which not only means we’re exceeding pre-pandemic levels but also signals a very busy summer travel season ahead.”  

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Around 38.4 million people will travel by car over Memorial Day weekend, which will be a new record since AAA started tracking in 2000. The number is up 4% compared to 2023 and 1.9% higher than in 2019.

The national average price per gallon is around $3.57 and, according to the release, “Prices may creep higher as the summer driving season gets underway. The wildcard remains the cost of oil, and unlike last year, there are now two wars – in the Middle East and Ukraine – that could roil the oil market.”

Airports will also see a spike in travelers as 3.51 million people will take to the air over the holiday weekend, an increase of 4.8% over 2023 and a 9% jump over 2019. It will be the most crowded Memorial Day weekend for airports since 2005, when 3.64 million people flew for the holiday.

Of the nearly two million other people traveling, they are expected to use other modes of transportation including trains, buses and cruises. The AAA projects 1.9 million people will use modes of transportation other than cars or airplanes, an increase of 5.6% over 2023.

“This category took the biggest hit during the pandemic with fewer people taking public transportation or not cruising at all,” said Twidale in the release. “Now – five years later – we’re back to 2019 numbers. Travel demand has been soaring, and long holiday weekends create the perfect windows for getaways.” 

Top Destinations 

The AAA release reported Memorial Day weekend travelers are seeking theme parks and entertainment venues in Orlando, Las Vegas, New York and Southern California. Seattle, Vancouver, and Anchorage also rank high because of the popularity of Alaska cruises this time of year. Florida beaches and cruise ports will also be packed. 

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