AAA projects slight increase in Memorial Day travel

AAA projects slight increase in Memorial Day travel
Even with today's high gasoline prices, the lure of the open road is too strong to keep Americans home this Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA South Dakota.

AAA reports travel will be up slightly this Memorial Day holiday with 38.3 million Americans expected to travel 50 miles or more from home, a 1.7 percent increase over last year.

In South Dakota, 12.5 percent of the population, 94,375 South Dakotans, are projected to travel over the long weekend, an increase of 1.7 percent over Memorial Day 2006. Of that number, 83 percent will get there by motor vehicle.

Nationwide, approximately 32.1 million travelers (84 percent of all holiday travelers) expect to go by motor vehicle, a 1.8 percent increase from the 31.5 million who drove a year ago.

Another 4.4 million (11 percent of holiday travelers) plan to travel by airplane, up 1.0 percent from last Memorial Day. A projected 1.9 million (5 percent of all holiday travelers) will travel by train, bus, or other mode of transportation, about even with a year ago.

"High gas prices and increased vacation costs won't deter Americans from traveling this Memorial Day," said Mark Madeja, spokesman for AAA South Dakota. "Families will travel closer to home, they will travel for fewer days and will save money by staying in less expensive hotels and eating in cheaper restaurants, but they will continue to take vacations and plan getaways."

Holiday auto travelers will find gas prices nationwide currently averaging $3.11 for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline � up 24 cents from a month ago and more than 18 cents higher than this time last year.

The South Dakota average for gasoline today is at a record high of $3.249 per gallon, 45 cents higher than a month ago and 38 cents above where it stood one year ago, according to

Travelers will get a bit of a break this holiday weekend when making their way to their destination. AAA's Leisure Travel Index shows flights over the holiday weekend averaging 5 percent less this year than last year, with the average flight costing $166. Car rental rates are expected to fall 16 percent from last year, with renters paying an average of $31, almost $6 less than last year. Hotel rates, however, will be up about 13 percent from a year ago, with travelers spending an average of $174 per night at AAA three-diamond hotels.

The average household that is traveling this Memorial Day weekend will spend $594.�

Many families across the U.S. will be traveling with their children.�In fact, 57 percent of households with children under 18 will bring them along on their Memorial Day vacation this year nationwide. Travelers from the Midwest region are most likely to travel with their children, with 66.6 percent saying they would be bringing their kids along. The Southeast follows close behind, with 60 percent traveling with kids under 18. Fifty-four percent of parents in the Northeast will travel with their children, while 53 percent of parents in the West say the same.�The lowest percentage of families traveling with kids under 18 will be from the Great Lakes region, with 50 percent.

The greatest number of Memorial Day auto travelers will originate in the West with 7.6 million travelers, followed by the Southeast with 6.9 million; Midwest, 6.8 million; Northeast, 6.0 million; and Great Lakes, 4.8 million.

The West is expected to produce the largest number of air travelers with 1.4 million, followed by the Midwest with 1.2 million; Southeast, 900,000; Northeast, 500,000; and Great Lakes, 400,000.

Research for Memorial Day travel is based on a national survey of 2,000 adults by the Travel Industry Association of America, which conducts special research for AAA.

Since its founding, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA, North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA South Dakota can be reached online at

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