Memorial Day holiday travel to rebound to more than 37 million


Return of AAA’s forecast predicts 60% more travelers than 2020

TOLEDO — AAA Travel expects a significant rebound in the number of Americans planning to travel this Memorial Day holiday weekend.

From Thursday through May 31, more than 37 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home, an increase of 60% from last year when only 23 million traveled, the lowest on record since AAA began recording in 2000.

The expected strong increase in demand from last year’s holiday, which fell during the early phase of the pandemic, still represents 13% — or nearly 6 million — fewer travelers than in 2019.

“As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and consumer confidence grows, Americans are demonstrating a strong desire to travel this Memorial Day,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “This pent-up demand will result in a significant increase in Memorial Day travel, which is a strong indicator for summer, though we must all remember to continue taking important safety precautions.”

Another factor contributing to the expected increase in travel this holiday is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recently updated guidance that fully vaccinated people can travel domestically at low risk to themselves, while taking proper precautions. Some local and state travel restrictions may still remain in place, however. Travelers can refer to AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map and TripTik.AAA.com for the latest information to help plan their trip.

For travelers who are not vaccinated but choose to travel, CDC recommends practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands and getting tested before and after travel.

Masks are required on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.

Orlando and Las Vegas are top Memorial Day destinations this year, both for AAA Travel bookings and TripTik road trip searches.

With 34 million Americans planning Memorial Day road trips, auto travel is expected to increase 52% compared to 2020. Nearly 12 million more Americans will travel by car this holiday than in 2020, though this is still 9% less than in 2019. More than nine in 10 Memorial Day travelers will drive to their destinations, as many Americans continue to substitute road trips for travel via planes, trains and other modes of transportation.

After a historically low year of air travel in 2020, this Memorial Day will see nearly 2.5 million Americans boarding airplanes, nearly six times more than last year (+577%). Still, 750,000 fewer people will take to the skies this holiday compared to 2019. AAA reminds air travelers that masks are required in all airports and on flights.

Meanwhile, just 237,000 Americans are expected to travel by other modes, including bus and train, this Memorial Day. This is the second-lowest volume on record, higher only than the 185,000 who traveled in 2020. In 2021, travel via these modes will be 88% below 2019 levels.

For the 34 million Americans expected to travel by car this Memorial Day, they can expect gas prices to be the most expensive since 2014 with the national average possibly more expensive than $3/gallon.

Gas prices will be increasing in part due to higher demand. As demand increases, gas stations are working to adjust delivery schedules to keep pace. However, there have been instances where some stations are seeing low to no supply at pumps for a few days due to delayed deliveries.

Letting a vehicle’s fuel tank run dry is more than just an inconvenience, it could also lead to costly mechanical problems down the road. AAA advises to keep an eye on fuel level and fill up before arriving to your final destination. The AAA app can provide insight on gas prices and you can always call ahead to a station to confirm they are open for business.

Before hitting the road, AAA reminds motorists to plan their route in advance and ensure their vehicle is ready, to help avoid a breakdown along the way. AAA expects to rescue more than 468,000 Americans at the roadside this Memorial Day weekend.

With the increase in travel on Ohio roads, the Ohio Department of Transportation will work to reduce the size of work zones and remove as many lane closures as possible for the upcoming holiday weekend.

Plan ahead by using OHGO.com to see real-time traffic conditions, more than 800 live traffic cameras and construction project locations.

Return of AAA’s forecast predicts 60% more travelers than 2020