AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades now and AAA projects that 39.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Memorial Day weekend.  That is one million more travelers than last year taking to the roads, skies, rails and water, creating the highest Memorial Day travel volume since 2005.

“The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year,” said Jim Lehman, President of AAA East Central. “Pent up demand following an election year and an improved economy have contributed to the record-breaking number of travelers who indicate they plan to kick off the summer with a much-deserved vacation this year.”

The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 25 to Monday, May 29.

The South Atlantic Region (which includes Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia) Memorial Day forecast is that:

  • Memorial Day travelers will total 7.4 million, an increase of 2.8% from the 7.2million in 2016.
  • 6 million will travel by automobile, up 2.6% from 6.4 million in 2016.
  • 581,000 people will fly to their destinations, up 6% from 548,000 in 2016.
  • 216,000 people will use other modes (bus, train, boat, etc.), a slight increase from 2016.

While AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Memorial Day gas prices since 2015, the vast majority of holiday travelers (88.1 percent) are still planning to hit the road. Automobile travel will grow by 2.4 percent across America this Memorial Day, with 34.6 million people planning a holiday road trip. The national average price for a gallon of gas today is $2.34, 12 cents more than last year.

In addition, more Americans are planning to rent cars for their holiday road trips this year.  According to Hertz, the busiest day for car rental pick-ups is expected to be Friday, May 26, based on last year’s data.

While road trips continue to reign supreme for Memorial Day, more Americans will fly, ride the train or bus, or take a cruise vacation compared to last year. Air travel is expected to increase nationally by 5.5 percent over last year, with 2.9 million across America taking to the skies this Memorial Day. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase 2.9 percent, to 1.75 million travelers.

While the vast majority of travelers are planning a Memorial Day road trip, many other Americans will take advantage of the long holiday weekend and travel internationally, with Europe especially popular this year. The top destinations for Memorial Day weekend, based on AAA national travel bookings, are: Orlando, Florida; Rome, Italy; London, England; Dublin, Ireland; Vancouver, Canada; Seattle, Washington; Las Vegas, Nevada; New York, New York; Paris, France; and Honolulu, Hawaii.

AAA expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists across the country this Memorial Day weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

Before setting out for Memorial Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities, and find hotels and restaurants.