The unofficial start to summer will be a busy one this year as AAA Texas predicts 3.2 million Texans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend. This is an increase of around 8% over 2021. Air travel continues to rebound, up 25% over last year. With volumes closing in on pre-pandemic levels, AAA Texas urges travelers to book now and remember flexibility is key this Memorial Day weekend. On a national scale, more than 39.2 million people across the country will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend. This is an increase of 8.3% over 2021, bringing travel volumes almost in line with those in 2017. Air travel continues to rebound, up 25% over last year, the second-largest increase since 2010.
“Texans should prepare themselves for a very busy Memorial Day weekend and summer travel season,” said Kent Livesay, vice president and general manager, AAA Texas. “We recommend travelers consider working with a travel advisor who will have the latest on the best times to travel, where to go and what to expect when you arrive.”
Air travel volume, which began to rally last Thanksgiving, will hit levels just shy of 2019 with 3 million people expected to take to the skies this Memorial Day weekend – nearly 250,000 of them in Texas. In fact, the percentage of people traveling by air will surpass 2019 levels with 7.7% of travelers choosing air travel as their preferred mode (it was 7.5% in 2019).
How to Travel Stress-Free This Summer
Memorial Day weekend is expected to be the busiest in two years, building on an upward trend that began earlier this spring. This year’s forecast marks the second-highest single-year increase in travelers since 2010 (2021 was the highest), bringing volumes almost in line with pre-pandemic levels. Despite historic gas prices, breaching the $4 mark in early March, 34.9 million people plan to travel by car with 2.8 million of them in Texas, up around 5% over last year. A greater portion of travelers are opting for air and other modes of travel than in previous years. Share of car travel fell from 92.1% last year to 88.9% this year throughout the country, a slight indication that higher prices at the pump are having an impact on how people choose to travel this Memorial Day. Regardless of which mode they choose, travelers should prepare for a busy holiday weekend.
Plan, plan and then plan some more. Book travel plans now if you haven’t already – the earlier the better to lock in the best rate and any discounts for pre-paying in full. Flights, car rentals, accommodations, tours, cruises and other activities are in high demand and availability is filling up. Prices are already skewing higher and with greater demand, finding last-minute deals is unlikely.
Air—AAA finds that the average lowest airfare is 6% more than last year coming in at $184/ticket with Saturday being the most expensive day to fly and Monday the least.
Hotels—Mid-range hotel rates have increased about 42%, with the average lowest nightly rates ranging between approximately $199 – $257/night for AAA Approved Hotels.
Car Rentals—Daily car rental rates have decreased 16% compared to last year, with the average lowest rate coming in at $100/day.
Remember, flexibility is important when considering Memorial Day travel plans – look to travel on off-peak times or days, pick a hidden gem closer to home or opt to stay at an all-inclusive resort with plenty of on-site activities. This limits the need for a rental car and paying a la carte for entertainment and dining. Based on AAA booking data, Thursday is shaping up to be the busiest day for air travel during the Memorial Day travel period (May 26 – May 30) with Monday being the lightest. For those hitting the road, Thursday and Friday are anticipated to be peak traffic days. AAA suggests reducing stress by:
Arriving at the airport at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours for international.
Consider booking a flight during non-peak travel periods to cut down on wait times.
Hitting the road when there’s less traffic and allowing extra time when traveling to your destination.
For those hitting the road, it’s always advisable to get your vehicle road-trip ready with a full vehicle inspection. AAA Texas expects to respond to more than 23,000 emergency roadside calls over the Memorial Day holiday weekend in the Lone Star State. Get key components checked like the battery, fuel system, tires, brakes and fluid levels and make sure your vehicle’s emergency kit is fully stocked.
Remember Your Travel Essentials
At the start of planning any trip, AAA reminds travelers not to forget the essentials – working with a travel advisor and investigating travel insurance. A travel advisor is an industry expert with many resources at their disposal to help plan and organize a trip that fits your individual needs and budget. They can easily look at a variety of options and scenarios to find savings not always available to the public. Plus, if something goes wrong, your travel advisor becomes your advocate – they will handle the logistics of changing or re-booking reservations.
AAA also highly recommends travel insurance to cover unexpected delays or trip interruptions. Travel insurance provides a safety net should something unexpected happen ahead of or during your trip. Travel advisors can also advise on what travel insurance policy makes the most sense. They know you, your trip, your budget and your specific needs.
Big Cities and Beaches are Top Destinations
AAA booking data reveals that big cities and beaches are top destinations this Memorial Day, both domestically and abroad:
Roads Will Be Busy
INRIX predicts drivers will encounter the longest travel delays before the holiday weekend, particularly during the afternoons on Thursday, May 26 and Friday, May 27. Drivers in major U.S. metros could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip.
Memorial Day Holiday Travel Period
For purposes of this forecast, the Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as the five days from Thursday, May 26 to Monday, May 30. The five-day holiday length is consistent with previous holiday periods.
About AAA: AAA provides more than 62 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of independently owned motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, AAA has been a leader and advocate for the motorist and safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting www.AAA.com. Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas.
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