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The Heat is On: Memorial Day Forecast Points to Sizzlin’ Summer Travel

The unofficial start to summer will be a busy one this year as AAA predicts 39.2 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend. This is an increase of 8.3% over 2021, bringing travel volumes almost in line with those in 2017. Air travel continues to rebound, up 25% over last year, the second-largest increase since 2010. With volumes closing in on pre-pandemic levels, AAA urges travelers to book now and remember flexibility is key this Memorial Day weekend.

Travelers from the New England states will make up close to 1.8 million of the 39.2 million, with more than 1.6 going by car and 141,000 by air, both more than last year and approaching pre-pandemic levels.

“Memorial Day is always a good predictor of what’s to come for summer travel,” said Lloyd Albert, Senior Vice President of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Northeast. “Based on our projections, summer travel isn’t just heating up, it will be on fire. People are overdue for a vacation and they are looking to catch up on some much-needed R&R in the coming months.”


2022 Memorial Day Holiday Travelers
  Total Automobile Air Other 

(Bus, Train, Cruise)

2022 (Forecast) 39.2M 34.9M 3.01M 1.33M
2021 (Actual) 36.2M 33.4M 2.41M 440,000
2019 (Actual) 42.8M 37.6M 3.22M 1.90M
Change (2019 to 2022) -8.2% -7.3% -6.3% -29.6%
Change (2021 to 2022) 8.3% 4.6% 25% 199.9%


How to Travel Stress-Free This Summer

Memorial Day weekend is expected to be the busiest in two years, building on an upward trend 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. Despite historic gas prices, breaching the $4 mark in early March, 34.9 million people plan to travel by car, up 4.6% over last year. A greater portion of travelers are opting for air and other modes of travel than in previous years. Share of car travel fell from 92.1% last year to 88.9% this year, an indication that higher prices at the pump are having an impact on how people choose to travel this Memorial Day. Regardless of which mode they choose, travelers should prepare for a busy holiday weekend.

Plan, plan and then plan some more.

Book travel plans now if you haven’t already – the earlier the better to lock in the best rate and any discounts for pre-paying in full. Flights, car rentals, accommodations, tours, cruises and other activities are in high demand and availability is filling up. Prices are already skewing higher and with greater demand, finding last-minute deals is unlikely.

  • 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 ranging between 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.

Remember, flexibility is important when considering Memorial Day travel plans – look to travel on off-peak times or days, pick a hidden gem closer to home or opt to stay at an all-inclusive resort with plenty of on-site activities. This limits the need for a rental car and paying a la carte for entertainment and dining. 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.

Remember Your Travel Essentials

At the start of planning any trip, AAA reminds travelers not to forget the essentials – working with a travel agent and investigating travel insurance. A travel agent is an industry expert with many resources at their disposal to help plan and organize a trip that fits your individual needs and budget. They can easily look at a variety of options and scenarios to find savings not always available to the public. Plus if something goes wrong, your travel agent becomes your advocate – they will handle the logistics of changing or re-booking reservations.

AAA also highly recommends travel insurance to cover unexpected delays or trip interruptions. Travel insurance provides a safety net should something unexpected happen ahead of or during your trip. Travel agents can also advise on what travel insurance policy makes the most sense. They know you, your trip, your budget and your specific needs.

Big Cities and Beaches are Top Destinations

AAA booking data reveals that big cities and beaches are top destinations this Memorial Day, both domestically and abroad:


2022 Top Memorial Day Destinations
U.S Destinations International Destinations
Orlando, FL Vancouver, Canada
Seattle, WA Dublin, Ireland
Miami, FL Paris, France
Las Vegas, NV Rome, Italy
Anaheim, CA London, England
New York, NY Cancun, Mexico
Denver, CO Amsterdam, Netherlands
Anchorage, AK Barcelona, Spain
Boston, MA Nassau, Bahamas
Honolulu, HI Calgary, Canada


Remember – Stay Safe and Patient

While most COVID-19 restrictions have eased, it’s important to keep safety in mind for yourself and others. Also, with a busy travel season, it’s easy to lose patience but remember, everyone has a common goal – getting to their destination safely. For those looking to take a few extra precautions, AAA recommends:

  • Traveling with your bubble. This type of travel rose to popularity during the pandemic when many opted to vacation with people they were in close contact with. Consider taking a group trip to divvy up costs for things like activities and accommodations. If everyone is spread out, a travel agent can help manage the logistics.
  • When booking a place to stay, look for accommodations that prioritize cleanliness and have implemented additional housekeeping standards since the start of the pandemic. In 2021, AAA enhanced its housekeeping evaluation to include objective, scientific validation of the cleanliness of common surfaces throughout hotels. Hotels that meet these new standards are now recognized as Inspected Clean. Look for this designation or to browse all of AAA’s Diamond properties, click here.
  • Everything from airports to restaurants to attractions will be busier this Memorial Day, which means more people congregating. AAA advises travelers to follow CDC guidance, which at this time, is still recommending that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings (airports, bus/train terminals, public transportation like subways/metros, airplanes, trains and buses).



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