AAA projects that 41.5 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend. That’s up 5 percent from last year and the most travelers since 2005, and adds up to about two million more travelers than last year taking to the roads, skies, rails and water. Gas prices for Memorial will be the most expensive in four years. The busiest travel days will be Thursday and Friday, and travel delays on major roads could be more than three times busier than normal as commuters mix with holiday travelers.
In the Pacific Region, Region (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA), 6.5 million people are expected to travel, a 5.4 percent increase compared to 2017. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 24 to Monday, May 28.
“The strong economy is fueling the jump in Memorial Day travel, and rising gas prices aren’t keeping people from kicking off the summer travel season,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho. “This is the fourth year of growth in Memorial Day travel volume.”
Car travel will increase for the fourth straight year; however its share of travel mode declines for the fourth consecutive year as more travelers take to the skies.
Nationally, 36.6 million or 88 percent of all travelers will drive to their holiday destinations, an increase of 4.7 percent compared to 2017.
In the Pacific region, 5.8 million or 84 percent will travel by car, an increase of 5.3 percent compared to last year.
AAA says U.S. drivers will pay the highest Memorial Day gas prices since 2014. The current national average is $2.93, while the current Oregon average is $3.31.
INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects travel delays on major roads could be more than three times longer than normal at times. Busiest travel times will be Thursday and Friday afternoons (May 24 and 25) from about 3 to 7 p.m.
While road trips continue to be the most popular way to travel for Memorial Day, more Americans will fly, ride the train or bus, or take a cruise vacation compared to last year.
Air travel is up 6.8 percent over last year, with 3.1 million Americans taking to the skies this Memorial Day. In the Pacific Region, 697,000 travelers are expected to fly, an increase of 7.5 percent compared to last year.
Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase 2.4 percent, to 1.8 million travelers.
Average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be 7 percent lower this Memorial Day, with an average round trip ticket costing $168 this year down from $181 last year, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index.
Hotel costs are up or down, depending on the type of property. AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels average $186 per night down from $215 a year ago, a decline of 14 percent. AAA Two Diamond Rated hotels cost 7 percent more this year at an average of $151 per night, up from $141 last year.
Daily car rental rates will average $59 down from $66 last year, an 11 percent drop and the lowest rate in the last four years. According to Hertz, the busiest day for rental pick-ups is expected to be May 25, with an average rental length of nearly six days, as travelers look to take advantage of the long holiday weekend.
AAA expects to rescue more than 340,000 motorists nationally and 4,800 in Oregon and Idaho this Memorial Day weekend, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires.
AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000
AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.
Be prepared for emergencies with a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers and pets.
Top Memorial Day destinations
These are the most popular destinations for AAA Oregon/Idaho this Memorial Day weekend, based on AAA.com and AAA travel agency sales:
Los Angeles/Anaheim, California
Las Vegas, Nevada
New York, New York
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.
Other top regional destinations for Memorial Day include the Oregon coast, central Oregon, and Vancouver and Victoria, Canada.