AAA is predicting an uptick in travel for the coming Memorial Day holiday, with 32.4 million Americans hitting the road (or skies) for the long weekend. Eighty-three percent of those travelers—some 27 million people—are expected to drive for their vacation, taking advantage of gas prices that are 40 percent cheaper than last year (at press time, the national average was $2.26 per gallon, compared to $3.72 last year).
Another factor inspiring people to travel is the abundance of deals currently available. All year we've seen competitive fare sales from airlines as they tried to kickstart slumping business, and we've also seen numerous hotel and vacation deals, as well as offers from big online travel agencies like Travelocity, Orbitz, and Expedia. Procrastinators are in luck as well, thanks to a number of last-minute deals for the holiday.
So does a busy holiday weekend portend an equally busy summer? It's too early to tell, but a survey from Deloitte does show that travelers plan on spending less on their summer vacation this year than last. "Nearly two-thirds [of respondents] said they are taking a summer vacation this year, although half of them said they will likely change some aspect of the trip due to economic/financial concerns." This shouldn't come as a surprise, considering the recession and all, but it's interesting that so many people are traveling despite the economic climate. Is this a sign that the economy is improving, or is it because of something broader, a collective desire to get out and travel either in spite of or as an escape from the recession? The airlines would prefer the former, and hope it's a sign of an industry rebound, but I think it's a little bit of both.
So, SmarterTravel readers, what are you doing this Memorial Day? Staying home? Hitting the road? Flying to a far-off place? Leave a comment below and share your plans or, if you're not traveling, let us know why. And if you haven't already taken our summer travel survey, please do. We'll be releasing the results soon.
As for me, I'm off to California for a road trip up the north coast and a few days in San Francisco. (Any good tips?)
(Editor's Note: SmarterTravel is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc. Expedia, Inc. also owns Expedia.com.)