NEW YORK — More Americans will hit the highways and airports over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, but they’ll probably spend much less than last year, according to a study released Thursday by AAA.
The travel group said about 32.1 million people are expected to take trips during the final weekend in May. About 30.5 million Americans traveled during the same weekend last year.
Glen MacDonell, AAA’s travel services director, said the improving economy will convince more people to get out of the house this year. “AAA travel agents are reporting double-digit increases in the percentage of travelers making advanced bookings for tours and cruises, hotel bookings,” MacDonell said.
AAA’s forecast, which is based on research by IHS Global Insight, estimated that most people will travel by car, even though gasoline costs about 50 cents more per gallon than it did a year ago. Airlines will also see more leisure travelers, with 2.15 million people expected to fly during the weekend. Last year, 2.1 million people booked flights for leisure trips.
Travelers, however, will probably keep a tighter grip on their wallets this year. The auto club estimates median spending on travel at $809 this Memorial Day weekend. Last year, Americans reported spending about $1052 for Memorial Day travel.
AAA added that air fares for the holiday weekend should be unchanged from last year. Car rental rates during the weekend are forecast to fall 15 percent from last year to $36.65 per day, and hotel rates are expected to drop slightly from last year as well.