The unofficial start of summer will be crowded this year as AAA expects nearly 40 million people to travel 50 miles or more from home on Memorial Day weekend.
That’s an 8.3 percent increase from 2021, putting travel volumes roughly in line with 2017.
Air travel continued to recover, up 25 percent from last year, the second largest increase since 2010. With volumes approaching pre-pandemic levels, AAA urges travelers to book now and remember that flexibility is key this year.
“Based on our expectations, more Americans will take to the roads and skies this Memorial Day weekend than in the past several years,” said Bevy Powell, Senior Vice President, AAA East Central. “People are looking forward to this special journey spending time with family and friends.”
The volume of air travel, which began rising on Thanksgiving, will reach levels shy of 2019, when 3 million people are expected to take to the skies this Memorial Day weekend. In fact, the percentage of people who travel by air will exceed 2019 levels of 7.5 percent with 7.7 percent of travelers choosing air travel as their preferred mode.
This year’s forecast represents the second-highest one-year increase in passenger numbers since 2010 [2021 was the highest], bringing volumes roughly in line with pre-pandemic levels. Despite historical gas prices exceeding the $4 mark, about 35 million people plan to travel by car, up 4.6 percent from last year.
A greater portion of travelers choose air and other travel modes than in previous years. Car travel is down from 92 percent last year to 89 percent this year, a slight indication that higher prices at the pump are having an impact on how people choose to travel this Memorial Day. No matter what mode they choose, travelers should prepare for a busy weekend.
Plan, plan, plan more. Book Travel Plans Now – The sooner the better, the better you can secure the best rate and any prepaid discounts in full. Flights, car rental, accommodation, tours, cruises and other activities are in high demand and availability is filling. Prices are already trending higher, and with demand increasing, finding last minute deals is unlikely. AAA finds:
Air – The lowest ticket price averages 6 percent more than last year at $184 a ticket, with Saturday the most expensive day to travel and Monday the lowest.
Hotels – Mid-range hotel rates increased about 42 percent, with lower average nightly rates ranging from roughly $199-$257 per night for AAA-certified hotels.
Car Rentals – Daily car rental rates are down 16 percent from last year, with an average low of $100 per day.
Based on AAA booking data, Thursday May 26 is shaping up to be the busiest day for air travel during Memorial Day travel period [May 26 – May 30] With Monday being the lightest. For those hitting the road, Thursday and Friday are expected to be peak traffic. AAA suggests reducing stress by:
• Arrive at the airport at least two hours before the time for domestic flights and three hours for international flights.
• Book a flight during off-peak travel periods to reduce waiting times.
• Road crash when traffic is low and additional travel time is allowed.
For the 35 million Americans who hit the road, it is always advisable to prepare a vehicle road trip with a complete vehicle inspection.
AAA expects to answer more than 388,000 calls for help over Memorial Day weekend. Inspect major vehicle components such as the battery, fuel system, tires, brakes and fluid levels, and ensure a fully installed emergency kit is in place.
INRIX expects drivers to experience the longest travel delays before the weekend, particularly during the afternoons of May 26 and May 27. Drivers in major US metro areas may experience twice the travel times compared to a normal trip.
“Even with the massive increase in gas prices, we expect a huge jump in holiday driving compared to the past few years,” says Bob Peshaw, Transportation Analyst, INRIX. Drivers should expect congestion on major roads around major cities and popular destinations. Knowing when and where congestion builds up can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”
For locals who would rather stay indoors than fight crowds, there is plenty to do in Ashtabula County:
• Ashtabula Memorial Day Parade, after national mass at 11 am in Veterans Park.
This year, the director of instrumental music at Lakeside High School, David B. Ruth, and student leaders from Lakeside High coordinate the show.
The parade will begin at noon on May 30, starting at West 48th Street, north on Main Avenue, heading west to West 42nd Street, then back up Park Avenue, and ending at the Municipal Building parking lot.
Children and adults are encouraged to wear national colors and wave small flags.
• The Hartsgrove Township Fire Department will host a Pancake Breakfast on Memorial Day, beginning at 7 a.m. on May 30.
• The 5K Memorial Lift Bridge will be erected from 1-3:30pm May 30th at 1006 Bridge Street, Ashtabula.
• The Jefferson Village Memorial Day parade begins at 11 a.m. May 30th.
• The Kelloggsville Heritage Committee will host the 63rd Annual Memorial Day Parade at 10 a.m. May 30, beginning at Kelloggsville United Methodist Church and ending at Monroe Kelloggsville Cemetery. The show will feature Edgewood High School Band, the Monroe Fire Department, flower girls and their escorts and vintage cars. There will be special music by EHS, with Justin Thompson and Ray Coy singing. The local teacher, Alan Runyan, will be the speaker. Two achievement awards will be presented to local residents. Everyone is invited.
• Madison’s Veterans will host a state memorial day to commemorate the heroes of the armed forces who died serving their country, beginning with a flag-raising ceremony at US Legion Headquarters 112 and 601, VFW Post 8548.
Services will be held at all Madison community cemeteries, followed by a flyover at 10:55 a.m., and a parade on Main Street at 11 a.m. on May 30. The show will head to Madison Village Park. Guest speaker will be retired CSM Mark Woodworth. At the conclusion of the services, wreaths will be laid at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, followed by a gun salute and a flag raising with the entire crew.