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Posted: Friday, May 16th 2014 at 1:28pm

AAA predicts busiest Memorial Day travel weekend since recession

By Ken Stanford Staff
EMAIL STORY CONTACT EDITOR PRINT
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The Georgia projections are 926,610 people traveling by car; 76,564 by plane; and 34,040 by other means of transportation, for a total of one million.
TAMPA, Fla. AAA Travel projects 36.1 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 1.5 percent increase from the 35.5 million people who traveled last year.

Kicking off the summer driving season, more than eight in 10 travelers will drive to their destinations. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 22 to Monday, May 26.

The Georgia projections are 926,610 people traveling by car; 76,564 by plane; and 34,040 by other means of transportation, for a total of one million.

Earlier this month, AAA issued its predictions for summertime travel. (See link below.)

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 to hit the road.

"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, in a statement. "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.

The AAA forecast represents an 18 percent increase in travelers from 2009, the low point of the recession, when only 30.5 million Americans traveled for Memorial Day. The number has been increasing steadily since 2011. The busiest travel weekend was in 2005, when 44 million people went away.

Last year, AAA said more people traveled during the Memorial Day weekend than it projected.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Link: New AAA survey projects increase in summer travel; 81% of Georgians planning a trip
Associated Categories: National News, Business News, Local/State News

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