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Nearly 42 Million Americans Planning Memorial Day Travel, Most In More Than A Dozen Years, Says AAA

May 18, 2018 05:35AM ● By Theresa Gilman

AAA Northeast

(Editor's Note: the following information was provided by AAA Northeast.)

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, and Americans will kick off the season by traveling in near-record numbers. According to AAA, more than 41.5 million Americans will travel this holiday weekend, nearly five percent more than last year and the most since 2005.

“The highest gas prices since 2014 won’t keep travelers home this Memorial Day weekend,” said Mary Maguire, AAA Northeast Director of Public and Legislative Affairs. “A strong economy and growing consumer confidence are giving Americans all the motivation they need to kick off what we expect to be a busy summer travel season with a Memorial Day getaway.”

By the Numbers: 2018 Memorial Day Holiday Travel Forecast

  • Nationally, the vast majority of travelers – 36.6 million – will drive to their destinations, 4.7 percent more than last year.
  • Close to 1.9 million New England residents are expected to travel, 1.7 million of them by car.
  • In Massachusetts, almost 1 million people will be traveling, an increase of 5.2 percent from last year.
  • Almost 900,000 Massachusetts residents are expected to drive this year, an increase of 5 percent.
  • Car rental prices are down 27.9 percent in the Boston area, with an average daily rate around $80 dollars down from $111 last year.
  • 80,000 Massachusetts residents are expected to travel by air, an increase of 7 percent from last year.
  • Flying is cheaper this year with roundtrip airfares from Boston to New York down 6.3 percent from last year, and roundtrip Boston to Washington D.C. down 11.2 percent

For Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company working with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday and Friday, May 24-25, in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with travelers. 

Worst Days/Times to Travel

Metro Area

Worst Day for Travel

Worst Time for Travel

Delay Multiplier of Normal Trip

Atlanta, GA

Thursday, May 24

3:30 - 5:30 PM


Houston, TX

Thursday, May 24

4:30 - 6:00 PM


Boston, MA

Thursday, May 24

4:30 - 6:30 PM


Washington, DC

Thursday, May 24

4:30 - 7:00 PM


San Francisco, CA

Friday, May 25

3:00 - 5:30 PM


Los Angeles, CA

Friday, May 25

3:30 - 5:30 PM


New York, NY

Friday, May 25

3:30 - 6:30 PM


Detroit, MI

Friday, May 25

4:00 - 5:30 PM


Chicago, IL

Friday, May 25

4:00 - 6:00 PM


Seattle, WA

Friday, May 25

4:00 - 6:00 PM





Source: INRIX

Higher Gas Prices not Deterring Travelers
The 88 percent of travelers choosing to drive with pay the most expensive Memorial Day gas prices since 2014. Gas prices nationally averaged $2.72 in April, an increase of 33 cents from last year, due to expensive crude oil, record demand, and shrinking global supply.

Top Memorial Day Destinations
Orlando again tops this year’s list of most-visited Memorial Day destinations in the U.S. based on advance AAA travel bookings. Cruises to Alaska as well as warm-weather destinations in Hawaii, Las Vegas, Phoenix and southern California. For those planning to kick off their summers with an overseas vacation, Europe is a major draw this year. Rome, Dublin and London are the most popular international travel destinations for Memorial Day weekend.

AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit member service organization with 65 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York, providing more than 5.7 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.

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