By Patch Editor Leslie Yager
AAA Travel projects 34.1 million Americans will journey at least 50 miles during the Labor Day holiday, a 4.2 percent increase from the 32.7 million people who traveled last year, according to a release from the not-for-profit organization.
The number of 2013 Labor Day holiday travelers is expected to reach a new post-recession high during the holiday, which AAA considers to run from Thursday, Aug. 29th to Monday, Sept. 2nd.
AAA attributes an increasingly positive economic outlook and optimism in the housing market for the significant uptick.
AAA Labor Day Travel Forecast:
Labor Day holiday travelers to total 34.1 million, an increase of 4.2 percent from the 32.7 million who traveled last year
Eighty-five percent of travelers (29.2 million) to travel by automobile, an increase of 4.3 percent from 28 million last year
Holiday air travel expected to increase nearly three percent to 2.61 million.
The largest share of travelers (46 percent) will depart on Friday, August 30
Monday, September 2, is the most popular date of return for holiday trips with 43 percent planning to return that day
The average traveler is expected to travel a round-trip distance of 594 miles and spend $804
2.4 million New Yorkers are expected to travel, 4.3 percent more than last year
AAA reminds drivers as they head out for the holiday and the school year is beginning of the importance of distraction-free driving.
Gas prices are unlikely to be a major factor for people in determining whether they will travel this Labor Day. As of mid-August, prices were on average down 2.7 percent per gallon compared to the same time year. The average price for gas on Labor Day 2012 was $3.83 per gallon, the most expensive average ever on record for the holiday. The current national average price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.53, 19 cents lower than last year.
AAA forecasts gas prices to remain less expensive than last year based on current trends through the middle of August, but there remains the potential for late-summer hurricanes, refinery problems and Middle-East turmoil that could send prices higher.
August 30th is the busiest travel day as travelers take full advantage of the extended weekend.
The largest share of travelers (46 percent) on a single day will depart on August 30th and the largest share will return on Monday (43 percent). Eighty-five percent intend to return from their Labor Day trip on Monday, Tuesday, or later.
Air travel to increase slightly
More than 2.61 million leisure travelers (eight percent) will arrive at their destination by air, a slight increase (2.8 percent) from last year’s 2.54 million air travelers. The remaining seven percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.
Average travel distance decreases, spending up slightly
According to the survey of intending travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Labor Day holiday weekend is expected to be 594 miles, which is 32 miles less than last year’s average of 626 miles.
Median spending during the Labor Day holiday weekend is expected to grow to $804, compared to $749 last year, according to AAA. Travelers expect to spend 24 percent of their budget on transportation and lodging and 21 percent on food and beverages.