More travelers over Memorial Day weekend, higher traveling costs, NY AAA says
Friday, May 23, 2014 - 11:39 am

More people will be traveling during the Memorial Day weekend this year, but travel costs are also increasing, according to predictions from the AAA chapter for the North Country.

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.

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 the second highest travel volume since 2000.

Eighty-eight percent of travelers (31.8 million) to travel by automobile, up 1.2 percent from 31.4 million last year.

Holiday air travel expected to increase 2.4 percent to 2.6 million leisure travelers.

Travel by other modes of transportation including cruise, trains and buses to increase 6.5 percent to 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.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

With many plans already made and budgets set, it is unlikely that gas prices will have a significant effect on travel plans compared to a year ago. AAA expects holiday gas prices to be relatively similar to last year’s national Memorial Day average of $3.63 per gallon, though unexpected developments such as refinery problems or international events could result in higher costs.

The current average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in New York is $3.89 per gallon, approximately 16 cents higher than this time last year. In Syracuse, the average price is $3.80 per gallon, up 18 cents from 2013.

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. The average round-trip, discounted airfares for the top 40 U.S. routes have increased six percent to $227 from $215 last year.

Members traveling close to home, along East Coast

Leading up to the Memorial Day weekend, AAA Western and Central New York members have been looking for information on a variety of local destinations throughout the region and activities including parks, camping, hiking trails and waterfalls.

People leaving Upstate New York are taking short getaways, mostly to East Coast locales such as New York City, Boston and Washington D.C. Several warm-weather destinations in the Mid-Atlantic States and the Carolinas, like Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach and Ocean City, MD are also popular this time of year.