Economy Watch: Memorial Day Weekend Travel Up This Year

More than 41.5 million Americans will travel this holiday weekend, according to AAA, which bodes well for hotels, restaurants and other tourist-related real estate.

Americans will hit the road in full force over the Memorial Day weekend, despite high gas prices, AAA reported recently, which ought to come as good news for hotels, restaurants and tourist destinations. All together, the organization estimated, more than 41.5 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend, nearly 5 percent more than last year and the most in more than a decade.

The 88 percent of travelers driving for the holiday will pay the most expensive Memorial Day gas prices since 2014, AAA noted. Gas prices averaged $2.72 nationwide in April, an increase of 33 cents from last year, due to expensive crude oil, record gasoline demand and shrinking global supply. Even so, automobile travel is expected to increase for the fourth straight year, by nearly 5 percent over last Memorial Day.

By contrast, airfare, car rentals and most mid-range hotels will cost less this year. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares are 7 percent lower than last Memorial Day, coming in at an average price of $168 for a round-trip flight along the top 40 domestic routes. At $59, the average daily cost of a car rental this Memorial Day is the lowest rate in the past four years.

Orlando again tops this year’s list of the most-visited Memorial Day destinations in the U.S., based on AAA advance travel bookings. Cruises to Alaska, originating in Seattle and Anchorage, as well as warm-weather destinations in Hawaii, Las Vegas, Phoenix and southern California will top travelers’ domestic itineraries this summer.