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What Americans can expect during the Memorial Day holiday travel period

AAA Travel officials expect 39.2 million Americans to travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, May 26-30.

Estimates would point to an 8.3% increase from 2021, with air travel up 25% from last year. With totals expected to be slightly lower than pre-pandemic levels, AAA is urging travelers to book now and remember that flexibility is key for the holiday season.


“Memorial Day is always a strong predictor of what’s to come for summer travel,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “Based on our projections, summer travel isn’t just heating up, it’s going to be on fire. People are late for a vacation and they are looking to catch up in the coming months. »

Memorial Day weekend travel data. (photo via AAA Travel Media)

Preliminary data shows the percentage of people traveling by air is expected to surpass 2019 levels, with 7.7% of travelers choosing air travel as their preferred mode, up from 7.5% before the pandemic halted travel.

Although gasoline prices hit historic highs, AAA Travel revealed that 34.9 million Americans planned to travel by car, a jump of 4.6% from 2021. car is expected to rise from 92.1% last year to 88.9% this year, indicating that gas prices are having an impact on how people choose to travel for the unofficial start of summer.

“Air transport has faced several challenges since the start of the year,” Twidale continued. “With the kind 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.

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Demand is also increasing, leading to higher prices for flights, car rentals, accommodation, tours, cruises and other activities. The AAA study found that the average airfare rose 6%, midscale hotel rates soared 43%, and daily car rental prices rose 170%.

The Vacationer also released its 2022 Memorial Day Travel Survey, which found nearly 57% of American adults said they would take a road trip over the holiday weekend, totaling more than 146 million. people.

The study also found that nearly 54% of respondents said high fuel prices had an impact on their travel plans, with 13.11% revealing that rising fuel and airfare costs had influenced their decision to fly commercially.

May 26 and 27 are shaping up to be the busiest days for road travel during the Memorial Day period, while the Thursday before the holiday will be the busiest for commercial air travelers.

As for top domestic destinations, AAA Travel has compiled a top 10 list, which includes (in order) Orlando, Seattle, Miami, Las Vegas, Anaheim, New York, Denver, Anchorage, Boston, and Honolulu.

Americans are also heading overseas, with major international destinations including Vancouver, Dublin, Paris, Rome, London, Cancun, Amsterdam, Barcelona, ​​Nassau and Calgary.

Arrivalist data also showed that the nature of car travel has changed over the past year, with travelers booking more overnight stays and fewer day trips, a drop in car travel to more than 250 miles and a higher volume of mid-week travel.