Memorial Day Travel Will Be the Heaviest It’s Been in Over a Decade

Traveling on Memorial Day weekend? Best plan ahead for traffic and congestion.

Memorial Day Travel Will Be the Heaviest It’s Been in Over a Decade

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If you’re planning to travel by automobile, airplane, train, or boat over the coming Memorial Day holiday weekend, rest assured you won’t be alone—not by a long shot.

Based upon a recent report from AAA, this year’s holiday will see 39.3 million Americans travel 50 miles or more from home, the highest Memorial Day travel volume since 2005 and about 1 million more than last year.

To put this data into perspective, AAA said 48.7 million Americans traveled for Thanksgiving in 2016.

Sure, most of the numbers in the most recent report are predictions, but AAA has been spot-on with data in the past. Overall, 2017 is AAA’s third consecutive year of growth in Memorial Day travel volume.

A deeper dive from USA Today into the most recent info reveals interesting details about the preponderance of Americans who will be road-tripping in the coming days. Case in point: About 89 percent of the total will drive to their destinations, an increase of 2.4 percent over last year. What’s more, drivers will pay an average of $2.34 per gallon for gas, a slight bump over gas prices last year

Related: A significant number of travelers will be driving rentals instead of their own vehicles. AAA data indicates car rental bookings are 19 percent higher than they were last Memorial Day, with the busiest day for pickups on Friday, May 26.

The AAA data also notes that the number of Americans planning to fly this Memorial Day will increase about 5.5 percent from last year to 2.9 million.

While this number pales in comparison to the number of travelers who plan to drive, it’s still a significant spike—especially considering that AAA’s Leisure Travel Index indicated the average price of a round-trip airplane ticket for the weekend would be about $181, a 9 percent increase over last year. The same index suggested the average price of a three-star hotel room would be $215 per night, a spike of 18 percent over last year; and the average price of a rental car would be $66 per day, which is 7 percent more than last year.

(In case you’re wondering, AAA also predicts that travel by other modes of transportation—cruises, trains, and buses—will increase 2.9 percent from last year.)

What do all of these numbers mean for you? If you’re one of the people driving, our best advice is to hit the road at off times. AAA considers the Memorial Day holiday weekend to run from Thursday, May 25 through Monday, May 29, which means rush hours on the bookend days likely will be the busiest times to be behind the wheel. You’ve been warned about avoiding the inevitable traffic. Plan accordingly.

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Matt Villano is a writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. To learn more about him, visit
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