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AAA: After a Harsh Winter More Americans to Start Summer Travel Season with a Memorial Day Getaway

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SOURCE AAA Chicago

Illinois/Indiana air and auto travelers on the rise

AURORA, Ill., May 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 ten travelers will be driving to their destinations. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 22 to Monday, May 26.

AAA-Chicago Motor Club logo.

In Illinois, 1.9 million people will be traveling for the holiday weekend, which is a one percent increase from 2013. Of those travelers, 1.7 million will be driving (up .5 percent from 2013) and 100,000 will be flying to their destination (a 4.3 percent increase from 2013). Gas prices across Illinois are on average $3.78, down from $3.98 in 2013.

In Indiana, 800,000 people are expected to travel, which is a 1.1 percent increase from 2013. Of those, 720,000 are expected to travel by auto (.6 percent increase) and about 43,000 by air (4.2 percent increase). In Indiana, gas prices are on average $3.66 per gallon, down from $3.77 this time last year. The average price nationally for gas is $3.65.

Highlights from 2014 Memorial Day Travel Forecast include:

  • Memorial Day holiday travel volume is expected to reach a new post-recession high with 36.1  million Americans taking a trip
  • The 2014 forecast is 2.6 percent higher than the ten-year historical average and the second highest travel volume since 2000
  • Eighty-eight percent of travelers (31.8 million) to travel by automobile, an increase from 31.4 million last year
  • Holiday air travel expected to increase from 2.4 percent to 2.6 million leisure travelers 
  • Travel by other modes of transportation including cruise, trains and buses will see the largest increase, up 6.5 percent (total 1.7 million travelers)
  • Travelers will encounter slightly higher prices with airfares six percent higher, mid-range hotels up two percent and car rentals costing one percent more

In addition to seasonal rising temperatures, improvements in several key economic factors are driving the expectation for more holiday travelers this year. The unforgiving winter was a hindrance to economic growth at the beginning of the year but economic factors influenced by weather, such as car and home sales, appear to be resolving themselves now.  Indicative of the unusually harsh winter, AAA experienced an increase of nearly 12 percent in battery related calls this winter.

"The winter blues appear to have given Americans the travel bug and a case of cruise cabin fever as travel for the holiday is expected to hit a new post-recession high," said Brad Roeber, AAA Chicago Regional President. "As the economy continues to improve at a slow and steady pace consumer spending, disposable income, consumer confidence and the employment outlook are trending up which is welcomed news for the travel industry."

Travel expenses rise modestly
According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase just two percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $169 per night compared to $166 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen three percent with an average cost of $124 per night. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $44, only one percent higher than last year. Airfares are experiencing the largest increase. The average round-trip, discounted fares for the top 40 U.S. routes have increased six percent to $227 from $215 last year. 

AAA's projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight 2014 Memorial Day Travel Forecast can be found here.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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