AURORA, Ill. (May 15, 2018) – Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, and Americans will kick off the season by traveling in near-record numbers. According to AAA, more than 41.5 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend, nearly 5 percent more than last year and the most in more than a dozen years (2005).
In Illinois, 2.04 million people will be traveling for the holiday weekend, which is a four percent increase from 2017. Of those travelers, 1.8 million will be driving (up four percent from 2017) and 112,000 will be flying to their destination (a 6.8 percent increase from 2017). Gas prices across Illinois are on average $2.95, up from $2.70 last month and up from $2.39 a year ago.
In Indiana, 898,000 people are expected to travel, which is up 4.5 percent from 2016. Of those travelers, 812,000 are expected to travel by auto (4.5 percent increase) and about 49,000 by air (6.9 percent increase). In Indiana, gas prices are on average $2.90 per gallon, up from $2.60 a month ago and up from $2.28 this time last year. The average price nationally for gas is $2.86.
“Higher gas prices will not be enough to keep travelers home this Memorial Day weekend,” said Vicky Evans, Assistant Vice President, Travel Sales Development, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “A strong economy and growing consumer confidence are giving Americans all the motivation they need to kick off what we expect to be a busy summer travel season with a Memorial Day getaway.” By The Numbers: 2018 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast
Drivers Beware: Worst Times to Hit the Road
- Total Travelers: More than 41.5 million Americans will travel on Memorial Day Weekend, 5 percent more than last year.
- 2018 will mark the fourth consecutive year of overall travel volume growth.
- Travel volume has increased by 6 million since 2014 and 11 million since the 2009 recession-driven low.
- Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 36.6 million – will hit the road this Memorial Day, 4.7 percent more than last year.
- Planes: 3.1 million people will travel by air, a 6.8 percent increase and the fifth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.
- Trains, Buses, Rails and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 2.4 percent to 1.8 million passengers.
- Gas prices for this holiday weekend will be the most expensive in four years.
For the 36.6 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, 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 could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip, while New Yorkers could see three times the delay.
“Ranked the most congested country in world, U.S. drivers are all too familiar with sitting in traffic,” said Graham Cookson, Chief Economist and Head of Research, INRIX. “Drivers should expect congestion across a greater number of days than in previous years, with the getaway period starting on Wednesday, May 23. Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak commute times in major cities altogether – traveling late morning or early afternoon – or plan alternative routes.”
Lower hotel, airline and car rental costs make up for higher gas prices
|Worst Days/Times to Travel |
|Metro Area ||Worst Day for Travel ||Worst Time for Travel ||Delay Multiplier of Normal Trip |
|Atlanta, GA ||Thursday, May 24 ||3:30 - 5:30 PM ||1.6x |
|Houston, TX ||Thursday, May 24 ||4:30 - 6:00 PM ||1.5x |
|Boston, MA ||Thursday, May 24 ||4:30 - 6:30 PM ||1.8x |
|Washington, DC ||Thursday, May 24 ||4:30 - 7:00 PM ||2.3x |
|San Francisco, CA ||Friday, May 25 ||3:00 - 5:30 PM ||1.7x |
|Los Angeles, CA ||Friday, May 25 ||3:30 - 5:30 PM ||1.9x |
|New York, NY ||Friday, May 25 ||3:30 - 6:30 PM ||2.7x |
|Detroit, MI ||Friday, May 25 ||4:00 - 5:30 PM ||1.5x |
|Chicago, IL ||Friday, May 25 ||4:00 - 6:00 PM ||2.1x |
|Seattle, WA ||Friday, May 25 ||4:00 - 6:00 PM ||1.8x |
| || || ||Source: INRIX |
While road trippers will pay higher prices at the gas pump this year, travelers can expect some relief in their wallets when paying for airfare, car rentals and most mid-range hotels. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index:
- Airfares are 7 percent lower than last Memorial Day, landing at an average price of $168 for a round-trip flight along the top 40 domestic routes.
- Hotels are also less expensive than last year. AAA Three Diamond hotels are 14 percent less than last year, with an average rate of $186 per night. Meanwhile, AAA Two Diamond hotels are 7 percent more expensive than last Memorial Day, with an average nightly cost of $151.
- Car rentals average $59 per day - the lowest rate in the past four years, and 11 percent cheaper than last year.
According to Hertz, a 40-year AAA partner, the busiest airport pick-up locations for travelers renting a car this Memorial Day are expected to be Orlando (MCO), Las Vegas (LAS), Atlanta (ATL), Los Angeles (LAX) and Kahului, HI (OGG). The busiest day for rental pick-ups is expected to be May 25, with an average rental length of nearly six days, as travelers look to take advantage of the long holiday weekend.
Travelers can book a flight, car rental or hotel at AAA.com
and on the free AAA mobile app
. They can also compare AAA Diamond rated properties at AAA.com/Diamonds
. Top Memorial Day travel destinations
Orlando again tops this year’s list of the most-visited Memorial Day destinations in the U.S., based on AAA advance travel bookings. Cruises to Alaska, originating in Seattle and Anchorage, as well as warm-weather destinations in Hawaii, Las Vegas, Phoenix and southern California top the list of travelers’ domestic destinations this summer.