Higher gas prices affecting travel plans
The number of Americans expected to travel this Memorial Day Weekend is projected to drop — albeit nominally — by 0.9 percent.
Nationwide, 37.8 million people are expected to travel, a decrease of 0.9 percent from last year’s total of 38.2 million. The southeastern U.S. reflects the same rate of decrease (0.9 percent) as the nation. In Florida, more than 2 million residents are projected to travel at least 50 miles from home, while more than 1 million Georgians and some 661,000 Tennesseans are forecast to travel during Memorial Weekend.
In the southeast, the number of people who intend to travel by car is projected to diminish by only 0.7 percent and the number of persons traveling by plane is projected to decline from last year’s figure by 1.2 percent. In Tennessee, 543,492 people are expected to travel by car, 66,427 by air and 51,650 by bus, train or other means.
“Rising gasoline prices won’t keep us from enjoying our family vacations; they’ll just keep some of us a little closer to home,” said Kevin Bakewell, senior vice president, AAA Auto Club South. “The important thing to remember is that the lion’s share of the vacation budget goes to hotel/motel accommodations and eating in restaurants … the cost of gasoline still amounts to a very small proportion of the typical family vacation budget — usually less than 10 percent.”
Holiday auto travelers will find gas prices nationwide currently averaging $3.75 per gallon of self-serve regular gasoline — 40 cents higher than last month and 64 cents higher than this time last year. In Florida, the average price of $3.79 for a gallon of unleaded regular represents an increase of 79 cents over this date last year; while Georgia’s $3.75 is an increase of 80 cents over last year; and Tennessee’s $3.65 is an increase of 76 cents over the same date in 2007.
AAA’s Leisure Travel Index shows the cost of flights over the holiday weekend averaging 5 percent more this year than last year. Hotel rates will also be up about 13 percent from a year ago. The greatest decrease will be seen in rental car rates — down about 16 percent from a year ago — with renters paying an average of $31. That is almost $6 less than last year.
The greatest number of automobile travelers this Memorial Day holiday weekend will originate in the West with 7.6 million travelers, followed by the Southeast with 6.8 million; Midwest, 6.7 million; Northeast, 5.8 million; and Great Lakes, 4.8 million. The West is expected to produce the largest number of air travelers with 1.37 million, followed by the Midwest with 1.18 million; Southeast, 870,000; Northeast, 545,000; and Great Lakes, 384,000.
Research for Memorial Day travel is based on a national survey of 2,200 adults by the Travel Industry Association of American, which conducts special research for AAA.
Published in The Messenger 5.19.08