AAA: Memorial Day weekend travel set to surpass pre-pandemic numbers

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According to AAA, an estimated 42.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, a harbinger of what’s to come for the summer travel season.

The numbers represent a 7 percent increase of 2022, AAA said, or 2.7 million more people traveling on Memorial Day than in 2022. Nearly 3.4 million travelers are expected to fly over the weekend, an 11 percent increase over last year and the first time air travel has exceeded pre-pandemic levels, the agency said.

“This is expected to be the third busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000, when AAA started tracking holiday travel,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “More Americans are planning trips and booking them earlier, despite inflation. This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports.”

Additionally, Memorial Day road trips are up 6 percent over last year, AAA said, with 37.1 million Americans driving to their holiday destinations. Gas prices are lower than last year’s average of $4 a gallon, the agency said. Still car travel will be lower than travel last year by about 500,000 travelers.

“With lower fuel prices and more travelers on the road compared to last year, drivers should expect long delays this holiday weekend, especially in and around major metros as commuters mix with Memorial Day travelers,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic. Our advice is to avoid driving during peak hours or use alternative routes.”

AAA estimated more travelers will be taking buses and trains. Demand for other modes of transportation is up 20.6 percent over last year, the agency said.