Memorial Day Travel Forecast: A Return to Pre-Pandemic Levels

This year’s forecast marks the second-highest single-year increase in travelers since 2010.
AAA Memorial Travel holiday forecast

The unofficial start to summer will be a busy one this year as AAA predicts 39.2 million people 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. With volumes closing in on pre-pandemic levels, AAA urges travelers to book now and remember flexibility is key this Memorial Day weekend.

Travelers from New England states will make up close to 1.8 million of the 39.2 million, with more than 1.6 going by car and 141,000 by air, both more than last year and approaching pre-pandemic levels.

“Memorial Day is always a good predictor of what’s to come for summer travel,” said Lloyd Albert, senior vice president of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Northeast. “Based on our projections, summer travel isn’t just heating up, it will be on fire. People are overdue for a vacation and they are looking to catch up on some much-needed R&R in the coming months.”

How to Travel Stress-Free This Summer

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, up 4.6% 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, an 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.

Book Now!

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.

To get started and to learn more, visit AAA.com/Travel

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