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Memorial Day travel boom expected

Staying in a hotel will likely be more costly. Mid-range hotel rates have increased about 42%, with the average lowest nightly rates approximately $199 – $257/night for AAA Approved Hotels.

From Staff Reports

Memorial Day weekend is expected to be the busiest in three years, building on a travel resurgence that began earlier this spring. This year’s forecast marks the second highest single-year increase in travelers since 2010 (2021 was the highest), bringing volumes almost in line with pre-pandemic levels.

Click here to read the report.

“By the looks of this Memorial Day travel forecast, the summer travel season is off to a sizzlin’ start,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “People are more comfortable traveling now than any other time in the past two years, and travel bookings are a reflection of that. Reservations for flights, hotels, and cruises for Memorial Day weekend are twice as strong as last year’s holiday and that momentum will likely carry into the summer.”

AAA predicts over 803,000 Tennesseans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend.  That’s an 7.4% increase over 2021, bringing travel volumes in line with those from 2017.

Nationally, it’s a similar story. More than 39.2 million Americans will travel for the holiday weekend. The 8.3% increase from 2021 puts travel volumes in line with 2017 figures.

All Travel Modes Rebound; Air Travel Nears Pre-Pandemic Levels

A recent AAA survey found that Tennesseans are more comfortable traveling now than any time during the past two years. That increased comfort is driving growth in all modes of transportation this year, especially air travel.

The 3 million Americans forecast to fly this Memorial Day weekend is just shy of 2019 levels. The number of Tennessee air travelers are off by just 0.7% from 2019.

“Surging demand and weather have challenged flight schedules since the beginning of the year,” Haas continued. “With the type of volume we anticipate going forward, we still recommend the safety net of a travel agent and travel insurance. Both are lifesavers if something unexpectedly derails your travel plans.”

Majority of Travelers will Drive, Despite Record-High Gas Prices

Despite historically high gas prices, nearly 87% of Tennessee Memorial Day travelers plan to travel by car. 698,000 Tennesseans are forecast to take a holiday road trip. That’s 4.1% more than last year’s holiday weekend.

Gas prices for Memorial Day are likely to be the highest on record. A combination of tightening global supplies and strong demand are the main culprits behind this unprecedented pain at the pump.

As of press time, the average price for gasoline in Tennessee is $4.20 per gallon. Previously, Memorial Day travelers found pump price averages of $2.87 in 2021, $2.52 in 2019, and $2.73 in 2018. The highest average price recorded on Memorial Day was $3.82 per gallon in 2008. Click here to view today’s average price.

“Coming out of this 2-year pandemic, Tennesseans are eager to travel again, and it doesn’t seem like record high gas prices or other inflationary pressures will stop them,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Many may look at cost cutting measures to offset the added expense, like driving shorter distances, staying in a less expensive hotel, or spending less on shopping, dining and entertainment.”

Travel Prices

Air—AAA finds that the average lowest airfare is 6% more than last year coming in at $184/ticket with Saturday being the most expensive day to fly and Monday the least.
Hotels—Mid-range hotel rates have increased about 42%, with the average lowest nightly rates approximately $199 – $257/night for AAA Approved Hotels.
Car Rentals—Daily car rental rates have decreased 16% compared to last year, with the average lowest rate coming in at $100/day.
Busiest Travel Days/Times

Air Travel – Based on AAA booking data, Thursday is shaping up to be the busiest day for air travel during the Memorial Day travel period (May 26 – May 30), with Monday being the lightest.

Road Trips – For those hitting the road, Thursday and Friday are anticipated to be peak traffic days.

AAA suggests reducing stress by:

• Arriving at the airport at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours for international.
• Booking a flight during non-peak travel periods to cut down on wait times.
• Hitting the road when there’s less traffic and allowing extra time when traveling to your destination.

Prepare your Vehicle: AAA expects to rescue 388,000 Stranded Motorists Nationwide

For the 34.9 million Americans hitting the road, it’s always advisable to get your vehicle road-trip ready with a full vehicle inspection. AAA expects to respond to over 388,000 calls for help over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Get key components checked like the battery, fuel system, tires, brakes and fluid levels and make sure your vehicle’s emergency kit is fully stocked.