South Dakotans working up an appetite for Labor Day travel

AAA projects 73,500 South Dakotans will travel more than 50 miles from home over the upcoming Labor Day holiday, a 6.4 percent increase over last year. Eighty-nine percent of them will be getting there by private motor vehicle, four percent by air and seven percent by other means, including cruise ship, rail, multi-modal and bus.

Nationwide, 34.1 million Americans will travel over the holiday, AAA predicts, a 4.2 percent increase from the 32.7 million people who traveled last year. The anticipated increase in holiday travel is predominantly due to increased consumer spending and the recovering housing market. The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, August 29 through Monday, September 2.

“For many of us, our home is our biggest asset,” said AAA South Dakota spokeswoman Marilyn Buskohl. “As home prices improve, more families are feeling more comfortable about traveling.”

  • Labor Day holiday travel volume across the country is expected to remain above the 13-year average of 38.9 million for this holiday
  • The largest share of holiday travelers (46 percent) will depart on Friday, Aug. 30
  • Monday, Sept.  2, is the most popular date of return with 43 percent planning to return that day
  • The average traveler is expected to travel a round-trip distance of 594 miles and spend $804.

Nationally approximately 85 percent of travelers plan to drive to their destination, an increase of 4.3 percent from the number who drove last year.

Gasoline prices are not likely to play a major role in determining whether we’ll travel this Labor Day. As of Aug. 20, the national price average for regular is $3.537, down 4.8 percent (18 cents per gallon) compared to the same time year. The average price for gas on Labor Day 2012 was $3.83, the most expensive average ever for the holiday.

AAA forecasts gas prices will remain less expensive than last year based on current trends through the middle of August, but there still remains the potential for late-summer hurricanes and refinery problems that could send prices higher.

Nationally, more than 2.61 million leisure travelers (eight percent) will arrive at their destination by air, a slight increase (2.8 percent) from last year’s 2.54 million air travelers. The remaining seven percent of travelers are expected to get there by other modes.

According to the survey of traveler intentions, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Labor Day holiday weekend is expected to be 594 miles, which is 32 miles less than last year’s average.

Median spending during the Labor Day holiday weekend is expected to grow to $804, compared to $749 last year. Travelers expect to spend 24 percent of their budget on transportation and lodging and 21 percent on food and beverages.

During the holiday weekend the most popular activities will be dining (57 percent), visiting with family/friends (46 percent) and shopping (43 percent).

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