This Memorial Day is expected to see more people taking to the roads and the skies to launch the start of the summer travel season.
More than 1.6 million Ohioans will travel 50 miles or more over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 6% increase over last year, according AAA.
AAA Club Alliance spokeswoman Kara Hitchens said the organization is seeing strong consumer confidence despite inflation as more people are planning trips and booking them earlier. This Memorial Day weekend nationwide is expected to be the third busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000 and the fourth busiest for Ohio, Hitchens said.
“Now that the government has officially declared all the (COVID-19 pandemic) emergency orders officially removed ... people are just ready to get back out there,” Hitchens said. “These three years have been really tough for folks. They’re ready to get back to make memories, ready to get back and travel, get back together with family and friends.”
Credit: JIM NOELKER
Credit: JIM NOELKER
Drivers in the greater Dayton area are expected to follow the trend and travel. More than 120,000 area residents will travel this coming weekend, a 6.1% increase since last year. Of that amount, 90.6%, or 108,954, will travel by car, a 5.6% increase since last year.
The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday to Monday, May 29, but the busiest travel days and times will be Thursday and Friday, as afternoon commuters mix with holiday travelers, AAA said.
Nationwide, AAA is predicting 42.3 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend. That’s an increase of 7.9% over 2022, or about 3.1 million more people traveling for the unofficial start of summer compared to last year.
Memorial Day road trips are up 6% over last year. More than 37.1 million Americans will drive to their destinations, an increase of more than 2 million. Ohioans preferred travel is by car with 1.45 million traveling on the road — up 5% — making it the third business year for road travel since 2005.
Gas prices are lower this holiday compared to last year, when the national average was more than $4 a gallon.
The average price of gasoline nationwide is unchanged from a week ago at $3.51 per gallon, according to data from GasBuddy, a tech company that operates apps and websites based on finding real-time fuel prices at gas stations.
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said online that prices will likely rise slightly in most states as Memorial Day weekend nears, “especially if there are positive developments in the debt ceiling discussions in D.C., while pessimism could drive prices slightly lower.”
The national average price of gasoline this Memorial Day weekend is projected to be $1.10 less than it was in 2022, at $3.53 per gallon on average. But gas prices being down compared to last year won’t necessarily motivate more people to take to the road, De Haan said.
“Americans have been seeing gas prices decline, but I think there’s ... a lot of economic anxiety in mainstream America over the direction of the economy,” De Haan told this news outlet. “Inflation is high, prices are soaring. We see it all over the place, and even with lower gas prices, Americans just aren’t feeling up to getting out as much as they did last year.”
In the Dayton area, 7.9%, or 9,474 people, will travel by air, a 13.3% increase, according to AAA. Air travel volume is expected to increase 11% over last year nationwide for this weekend, with 3.4 million people expected to take to the skies nationwide. That upward trend also is expected in Ohio, where 86,138 people will travel via airplane, a one year increase of 11%, according to AAA.
The remaining 1.2%, or 1,421, will travel by bus, train or cruise ship, an 18.8% increase since last year. That mirrors statistics nationwide, with travelers of alternate means of transportation expected to total 1.85 million, an increase of 20.6% over 2022. In Ohio, that amount is predicted to be 60,860 — up 20% over 2022.
“People love cruising and we’ve had members who booked cruises out a year or so in advance,” Hitchens said.
The cruise industry was having many issues even before COVID with norovirus, and COVID arriving in early 2020 exacerbated the situation, and the industry shut down operations altogether, taking “a big hit,” Hitchens said.
“Now folks are ready to get back,” she said. “The cruise industry is making promises that they’ve gotten themselves together and they can provide safe, fun travel for families and groups, so people are trusting that.”
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