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AAA expects Memorial Day travel to be near record levels

More than 42.3 million Americans are expected to travel 50 or more miles from home this weekend, a 7 percent increase from two years ago, according to AAA.

“This is expected to be the third-busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000, when AAA started tracking holiday travel,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “More Americans are planning trips and booking them earlier, despite inflation. This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports.”

For Missourians and Kansans, up to 150,000 will flock to the Lake of the Ozarks over the holiday weekend. The which sees more than 2 million visitors during the summer. The other hotspot for Memorial Day is Branson, the state’s biggest tourist destination.

Nearly 3.4 million travelers are expected to fly to their destinations this Memorial Day, an increase of 11 percent over last year. Air travel over the holiday weekend is projected to exceed pre-pandemic levels, with 170,000 more passengers than in 2019. Despite high ticket prices, demand for flights is skyrocketing. This Memorial Day weekend could be the busiest at airports since 2005.

READ: Factoids about Memorial Day

Memorial Day road trips are up 6 percent over last year. Thirty-seven million Americans will drive to their destinations, an increase of more than two million. Gas prices are lower this holiday compared to last year, when the national average was more than $4 a gallon. Despite lower prices at the pump, car travel this holiday will be shy of pre-pandemic numbers by about 500,000 travelers.

INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, expects this Friday to be the busiest day on the roads during the long Memorial Day weekend. The best times to travel by car are in the morning or evening after 6 p.m. The lightest traffic days will be Saturday and Sunday.

“With lower fuel prices and more travelers on the road compared to last year, drivers should expect long delays this holiday weekend, especially in and around major metros as commuters mix with Memorial Day travelers,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic. Our advice is to avoid driving during peak hours or use alternative routes.”

Travelers are paying more for Memorial Day trips this year, in large part due to the rising cost of airline tickets.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice


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