NEW YORK – A strong case of cabin fever and a little more money to spend should inspire a greater number of Americans to hit the road this Memorial Day weekend.
That’s the forecast from auto club AAA, which on Friday said it expects a total of 36.1 million people to travel 50 miles or more. If that estimate holds true, it would be the largest amount of people traveling during the holiday weekend since 2005.
Most will drive to their vacation spots, but more people are expected to fly or take a cruise or train this year compared with a year ago, AAA said.
The improving job market and a rise in disposable income are fueling the increase in holiday travel plans, AAA found in its annual survey. The desire to get out of the house after a brutally cold winter is another strong incentive.
“Thoughts of historic cold are still fresh in the minds of Americans in many parts of the country,” said AAA’s Chief Operating Officer Marshall Doney. “The winter blues appear to have given Americans the travel bug.”
Of the total travelers, 31.8 million are expected to drive, up 1.3 percent from 31.4 million last year. Gas prices are less of a concern for drivers, since they are expected to be lower than last year’s average of $3.63, thanks to rising supplies, AAA said.
Airports will be busier, with 2.6 million people expected to fly this year, up 2.4 percent from last year. And 1.7 million people will take a cruise, train or bus, a 6.5 percent jump from a year ago.
Travelers can expect to pay more for their getaways. Hotel rooms are likely to cost $3 more a night from last year, at an average of $169 per night, AAA said. The average cost of a round-trip plane ticket is $227, up from $215 a year ago. Car rentals will average $44 a day during the weekend, up 1 percent from a year ago. A 3.4 percent increase in personal income from last year should help cover those additional costs, the auto club said.