WASHINGTON—AAA projects 42.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, a 7% increase over 2022. This year, 2.7 million more people will travel for the unofficial start of summer compared to last year, a sign of what’s to come in the months ahead, says AAA.
“This is expected to be the third busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000, when AAA started tracking holiday travel,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “More Americans are planning trips and booking them earlier, despite inflation. This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports.”
Memorial Day road trips are up 6% over last year. 37.1 million Americans will drive to their destinations, an increase of more than 2 million. Gas prices are lower this holiday compared to last year, when the national average was more than $4 a gallon.
Nearly 3.4 million travelers are expected to fly to their destinations this Memorial Day, an increase of 11% over last year. Air travel over the holiday weekend is projected to exceed pre-pandemic levels, with 170,000 more passengers—or 5.4% more—than in 2019. Despite high ticket prices, demand for flights is skyrocketing. This Memorial Day weekend could be the busiest at airports since 2005.
More people this holiday are taking other modes of transportation, too, like buses and trains. These travelers are expected to total 1.85 million, an increase of 20.6% over 2022.
AAA booking data for the Memorial Day weekend shows tourist hotspots like Orlando, New York City and Las Vegas are top domestic destinations. Cruise port cities in Florida and Alaska, as well as Seattle, are high on the list, given the 50% increase in domestic cruise bookings compared to last year. Other popular U.S. cities this Memorial Day include Denver, Boston, Anaheim and Canton, Ohio, which is home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“We are seeing a demand for iconic cities, international vacation packages, and cruises with included amenities that provide more value for the price,” Twidale added.
Travelers are paying more for Memorial Day trips this year in large part due to the rising cost of airline tickets. AAA booking data shows a 40% increase in airfare to this year’s top destinations.
International travel is surging, with bookings 250% higher this holiday weekend compared to 2022. European cities are the most popular, including Rome, Paris, Dublin, London, Barcelona and Athens. International car rentals are up more than 80% over 2022. AAA reports strong sales for international driving permits this year, almost double what they were last year. The passport courier service RushMyPassport is also seeing an unprecedented number of applications for expedited passport and visa services this year.
Last year, AAA’s national public relations manager Andrew Gross appeared on the NACS podcast Convenience Matters.