According to AAA’s first travel forecast of the summer, nearly 5.2 million Californians are projected to travel over the upcoming three-day weekend. This is an increase of 5.3 percent from last year and the highest number on record for the holiday. AAA projects that 41.5 million Americans will travel nationwide, nearly 5 percent more than last year and the most in more than a dozen years.
“The highest gas prices since 2014 won’t keep travelers home this Memorial Day weekend,” said Michael Blasky, spokesman for AAA Northern California. “A strong economy and growing consumer confidence are giving Californians all the motivation they need to kick off what we expect to be a busy summer travel season.”
By the Numbers: Memorial Day Travel Forecast
- 2018 will be the seventh straight year of state growth and fourth consecutive year of nationwide growth during the holiday period.
- More than 4.3 million Californians will drive to their destinations, an increase of 5.2 percent over last year.
- Nearly 528,000 Californians are taking to the skies this Memorial Day, increasing air travel by 7.5 percent over last year.
Outsmart traffic by avoiding worst times to hit the road
For those traveling by car, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday, May 24 and Friday, May 25 – in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Several major U.S. metros, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip.
Although these travel times might look daunting, be glad you’re not driving through the core of the Big Apple: The largest delay in the nation is expected to occur in New York City, where a normal 23-minute commute on I-95 West is predicted to take 2 hrs & 18 minutes, 506% higher than normal.
The top domestic destinations for Memorial Day weekend, based on AAA travel bookings, are:
- Orlando, Florida
- Seattle, Washington
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Anchorage, Alaska
Higher gas prices not deterring travelers
The 88 percent of travelers choosing to drive will pay the most expensive Memorial Day gas prices since 2014. California gas prices are nearly 70 cents higher compared to last year, due to expensive crude oil, record gasoline demand and shrinking global supply.
Lower hotel, airline and car rental costs make up for higher gas prices
Travelers can expect some relief in their wallets when paying for car rentals and most mid-range hotels. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, the average daily cost of a car rental this Memorial Day is the lowest rate in the past four years and 11 percent cheaper than last year at an average at $59. Travelers will also save on AAA Three Diamond hotels, which are trending 14 percent less expensive than last year, with an average rate of $186 nightly.
Before setting out for Memorial Day, download the free AAA Mobile app. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, make travel arrangements, access exclusive member discounts, request roadside assistance and more. Learn more at www.AAA.com/mobile.
The 2018 Memorial day holiday period is defined as Thursday, May 24 to Monday, May 28.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.
AAA Northern California offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, financial services and consumer discounts to its 4 million members. AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 117 years ago. Visit AAA.com for more information.