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AAA: A Record Setting 2.5 Million Floridians Expected to Travel Over Memorial Day Weekend


Florida - Tuesday May 14, 2024: AAA is predicting yet another record number of state residents will travel during this year’s Memorial Day weekend. More than 2.5 million Floridians are expected to hit the road and journey 50 miles or more. That’s 126,500 more holiday travelers than the previous high, which was set last year.

The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27.

“Memorial Day will be the start to a very busy summer of travel,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “American travelers are forecast to surpass pre-pandemic levels, making this the busiest Memorial Day holiday weekend in nearly two decades. The main driver of the projection is strong consumer interest in traveling both domestically and abroad. Interest in traveling internationally is at the highest level in recent years.”

Florida Memorial Day Traveler Totals
2.5 million
2.3 million
2.4 million
2.2 million

Nationally, AAA projects the second highest traveled Memorial Day on record. Nearly 43.8 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more during the holiday travel period*. That’s 1.7 million more travelers than last year (4% increase), yet slightly behind 2005’s record of 44 million.

National Memorial Day Traveler Totals
43.8 million
38.4 million
3.5 million
1.9 million
42 million
36.9 million
3.4 million
1.8 million

Road Travel
Road trips are expected to set a record in Florida and nationwide, with nearly 1.5 million more Americans on the road than last year. AAA projects nearly 38.4 million Americans will drive to their destination. That's the largest automobile travel volume for this holiday since AAA began tracking in 2000. The national number of auto travelers this year is up 4% compared to last year and 1.9% higher than in 2019.

“Traveling by car is appealing for many people because of the convenience and flexibility it provides,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “However, that holiday road trip may cost more at the gas pump this year."

During last year’s holiday weekend, Florida gas prices averaged $3.41 per gallon. To view today's state and metro gas price averages, visit Drivers can also use the free AAA mobile app to find the lowest gas prices in their area, and get discounted pricing at the pump by participating in the Fuel Rewards Program.

“Drivers should expect continued volatility at the pump as the summer driving season ramps up,” Jenkins continued. "The wildcard remains the cost of oil. And unlike last year, there are now two wars – in the Middle East and Ukraine – which have the ability to roil the oil market at any time.”

Air Travel
Airports are bracing for a spike in travelers. AAA expects 3.51 million Americans to travel by air this holiday weekend, an increase of 4.8% over last year and a 9% jump compared to 2019. This will be the most crowded Memorial Day weekend at airports since 2005, when 3.64 million Americans flew for the holiday, as the travel industry finally rebounded post 9/11.

Airfares are more expensive than last year. According to AAA booking data, the average price for a round trip domestic flight will cost $778. That’s 2% more than last year’s holiday weekend. International flights are 4% more expensive – averaging $1485 for a roundtrip ticket. Several factors play into how much travelers pay for airfare, including destination, number of stops, and fare class. For example, passengers who book nonstop flights with seat selection and carry-on bags included will likely pay more than those who select basic economy with a layover.

Bus, Train, and Cruise Travel
Nearly two million people are forecast to travel by other modes of transportation, including buses, cruises, and trains. AAA projects 1.9 million people will take these other modes of transportation, an increase of 5.6% compared to last year. “This category took the biggest hit during the pandemic,” Haas said. “Now – five years later – we’re back to 2019 numbers. Leading the charge is the resurgence in both ocean and river cruising, which came back extremely strong and continues to gain popularity. With ships of all sizes being introduced each year, there is constantly something new and exciting to explore for both first time and repeat cruise enthusiasts.”

Hotel and Rental Car Prices
Domestic hotel prices are also less expensive than last year. In reviewing all hotel bookings with AAA, domestic hotels are 5% cheaper this Memorial Day weekend compared to last. The total average cost per stay (which can be multiple nights) is $500. International hotels are about the same as last year. The average cost per stay is $660.

Domestic car rentals are 17% cheaper this Memorial Day weekend compared to last. The average total cost for a rental (which is typically for a few days) is $439. International car rentals are 16% cheaper this Memorial Day weekend compared to last. Average total cost for a rental (which is typically for a few days) is $617.

  • Cities with the highest rental demand this Memorial Day weekend are Orlando, Denver, Atlanta, Boston, and Las Vegas.
  • The busiest pick-up dates are Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24, with rental reservations averaging five days in length.
  • The most popular vehicle classes reserved for Memorial Day weekend are mid-size and full-size sedans, small and mid-size SUVs.

Best/Worst Times to Drive and Peak Congestion by Metro
INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, says drivers leaving Thursday or Friday should hit the road early to avoid mixing with commuters. Travelers going back home on Sunday or Monday should avoid the afternoon hours when return trips will peak.

“Travel times are expected to be up to 90% longer than normal. Travelers should stay up to date on traffic apps, 511 services, and local news stations to avoid sitting in traffic longer than necessary,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX.

Best and Worst Times to Travel by Car
Worst Travel Time
Best Travel Time
Thursday, May 23
12:00 - 6: 00 PM
Before 11 AM, After 7PM
Friday, May 24
12:00 - 7:00 PM
Before 11AM, After 8 PM
Saturday, May 25
2:00 - 5:00 PM
Before 1 PM, After 6 PM
Sunday, May 26
3:00 - 7:00 PM
Before 1 PM
Monday, May 27
3:00 - 7:00 PM
After 7 PM

Top Destinations
This Memorial Day weekend, travelers are seeking theme parks and entertainment venues in Orlando, New York, Las Vegas, and Southern California. Seattle, Anchorage, and Vancouver rank high because of the popularity of Alaska cruises this time of year. Florida beaches and cruise ports will also be packed.

European cities dominate the international list. The top 10 domestic and international destinations below are based on AAA booking data.

Orlando, FL
Rome, Italy
Seattle, WA
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
New York, NY
London, England
Las Vegas, NV
Paris, France
Anaheim/Los Angeles, CA
Dublin, Ireland
Denver, CO
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Anchorage, AK
Athens, Greece
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Barcelona, Spain
Miami, FL
St. George, Bermuda
Boston, MA
Edinburgh, Scotland

Travel Trends  
As travelers make plans for summer and beyond, AAA Travel has identified the following trends:

  • Bucket Lists: Travelers taking once-in-a-lifetime trips and working through their wish-lists.
  • Milestones: Families booking anniversary, retirement, and family reunion trips.
  • Asia: More travelers interested in visiting Asia, especially Japan.
  • Solo Trips: More people, especially women, interested in traveling by themselves or with other like-minded individuals.
  • Luxury Vacations: More travelers seeking high-end cruises and tours.
  • Trains: Many travelers interested in rail vacations across New England, Canada, and Europe.
  • Adventure in Nature: Travelers booking trips to Antarctica, Africa, and South Pacific.

Travel Agent Survey
A recent survey of AAA travel agents highlights topics travelers are frequently discussing when booking trips:

  • Travel Insurance: 51% of agents say more travelers are interested in protecting their trips.
  • Cruises: 77% of agents say travelers are interested in ocean cruises and 67% say river cruises.
  • All-Inclusive: 70% of agents say travelers are interested in all-inclusive vacations.