AAA Travel predicts that 33 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more during the Labor Day holiday weekend, according to a recent press release. That number represents a 2.9% increase from the 32.1 million people who traveled last year.
AAA said total number of 2012 Labor Day holiday travelers is expected to reach a new post-recession high, and is the third increase in holiday travel this year, according to the AAA/IHS Global Insight 2012 Labor Day Holiday Travel Forecast. AAA’s Memorial Day and Independence Day holiday travel forecasts projected increases of 1.2% and 4.9%, respectively.
AAA attributed the increase in expected Labor Day holiday weekend travelers is driven by improving consumer confidence compared to one year ago and American’s unwavering desire to travel. The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Aug. 30 to Sept. 3.
“Travel is still within America’s discretionary spending budget,” AAA New Jersey Automobile Club Director of Public Affairs Cathleen Lewis said in the release.
AAA says fewer Americans will travel over the Labor Day weekend than did a year ago because of the weak economy and higher airfares.
The auto club predicted Wednesday that 31.5 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home between Thursday, Sept. 1, and the holiday on Monday, Sept. 5, a decrease of 2.4%.
Most will travel by vehicle, but 8% will fly. AAA said air travel will decline because fares are 13% higher than a year ago. Airlines raised prices early this year to offset jet fuel costs and have held prices steady even as fuel has fallen since April.
• Rates at mid-quality hotels are expected to be 6 percent higher than a year ago, costing travelers about $148 per night.
• Weekend daily car rental rates are expected to be 7 percent lower than last Labor Day.
AAA based its forecast on research by Boston-based IHS Global Insight.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) projects that 39.1 million travelers will take a trip of 50 miles or more away from home over the Sept. 5-7 Labor Day weekend. The numbers represent a decrease of 13.3% from Labor Day 2008, when travel was the highest this decade, at 45.1 million travelers.
The nonprofit AAA’s forecasting partner, IHS Global Insight, believes much of the decline in travel plans can be attributed to Labor Day falling late on the calendar. Labor Day this year is Sept. 7, when the school year is already two to three weeks into the fall session for most school kids, according to the South Florida Business Journal.
Last year, Labor Day fell on Sept. 1, allowing for a long weekend trip before a new school year started in most regions of the country.
In any case, analysts say upcoming holiday travel will be the third strongest for the Labor Day weekend this decade. The second busiest year was 2003, at 41.6 million travelers.
AAA expects the nationwide average price of gasoline to be approximately $2.60 per gallon – one dollar per gallon less than it was in 2008.
“Our forecast shows Labor Day travel will be up over this summer’s 4th of July holiday and that’s a positive sign,” AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet said.
Other Labor Day travel observations by AAA and IHS Global Insight:
- A greater share, 84%, of travelers will travel by auto.
- Four percent are expected to travel by air.
- Auto vacations will be taken by 32.9 million.
- Air trips will be taken by 1.5 million – the lowest number this decade.
- Traveling by other modes – which can include trains, cruises, buses, RVs, personal watercraft, motorcycles or trips that use multiple modes of travel – are expected to reach 4.8 million.
- The average amount spent is projected to be $968 and the average distance traveled will be 645 miles roundtrip.