Memorial Day Travel Up 1.2 Percent According to AAA Projection [VIDEO]

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Memorial Day travel is projected to be up 1.2 percent from last year according to AAA. Automobiles are the leading transportation choice as American travelers continue to economize and stay closer to home.

AAA reports Memorial Day travelers are expected to increase by 1.2 percent over last year. As Americans remain budget-conscious this year, the leading transportation choice will be automobiles with travelers venturing closer to home.

Memorial Day Weekend Road Trips

Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer for many people, though it is still part of the spring season. The weather is warmer and Memorial Day road trips are a way to get together with friends and family for barbecues and outdoor activities. Memorial Day weekend extends from Thursday, May 24 through Monday, May 28.

The American Automobile Association projects 34.8 Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during this popular holiday weekend. It is an increase of 1.2 percent (500,000 travelers) from the 34.3 million people who traveled one year ago on Memorial Day weekend. The average travel distance is decreasing significantly as American continue to be cautious about entertainment costs.

According to a press release, AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet said the domestic economic picture continues to improve slightly. However, American consumers are facing a new challenge this year as gas prices steadily rise throughout the spring and squeeze household budgets.

Darbelnet continued, “Americans will still travel during the Memorial Day holiday weekend but, many will compensate for reduced travel budgets by staying closer to home and cutting entertainment dollars.”

Road trips lead the pack as automobiles are the lead transportation choice. About 30.7 percent of travelers plan to drive to their destination. This is up 1.2 percent from last year when 30.3 million people drove to their desired location.

A whopping 88 percent of Memorial Day holiday travelers will take the roadways during the weekend, which is nine out of ten adventurers.

Gas Prices Have an Impact on Memorial Day Travelers

A survey of Memorial Day travelers found just over half stated recent increases in gasoline prices would not impact their plans for to getaway. The remaining 47 percent said gas prices would impact their travel plans for the holiday weekend.

Nine percent of these travelers will take a shorter trip with four percent taking an alternative mode of transportation. The remaining 34 percent intend to economize in other ways, such as reduced spending on entertaining, staying at a lower priced hotel, staying with family or friends instead of a hotel or staying at a value-conscious hotel with added amenities such as Internet and free breakfast.

National gas prices peaked in April then fell for 23 of the 30 days during the month. The current national average price for a gallon of gasoline is about 25 cents lower than last year at this time.

Other Types of Memorial Day Travel and Distance People Will Go

With frugality in mind, over 2.5 million travelers will go by air for Memorial Day weekend escapes. This is an expected decline of 5.5 percent from last year when 2.7 million travelers took to the air. The 4.5 percent of Memorial Day holiday travelers that remain are anticipated to get to their destinations by watercraft, bus, rail and other modes.

Intended travelers surveyed revealed the average distance Americans will travel is 642 miles, a decrease from last year's average of 792 miles. A total of 21 percent of travelers will go less than 150 miles. Median spending last year was $692 and this year it is up marginally to $702. Lower income homes are hit harder by gas prices than those with household incomes over $100K.

According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, the cost of car rentals is down four percent from last year while hotel lodgings are expected to increase about eight percent. Many travelers turn to online to find hotels, restaurants and more within their price range.

Mobile devices are also being used to help travelers plan their Memorial Day weekend escapes. AAA offers free apps for iPad and Android devices to help travelers find everything from current gas prices to the best travel route.

Yesterday HULIQ reported about the launch of the new “Orient-Express Traveller” iPad app to help international travelers plan the ultimate getaway to posh destinations around the world for the ultimate summer vacation.

HGTV also offers an array of ideas for creating a fantastic Memorial Day event right in your own backyard for those who are opting for a “staycation” instead of going away. Television shows such as HGTV's “Going Yard” offer ways to transform boring backyards into an outdoor oasis with resort amenities.

Many people wind up going on the road for Memorial Day vacations without properly checking their vehicles, which puts a damper on their trip. Below is a useful video offering road tips for car travelers with commentary from AAA.

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