If you're planning to leave town for the long Memorial Day weekend, it might be good to get on the road early—like, before Friday's rush hour early. According to a report released by AAA last week, 36.1 million people are expected to travel at least 50 miles from their home this weekend, a slight increase over 2013's numbers. That's also the second-highest number of Memorial Day travelers since 2000.
So what's behind the rise? The Polar Vortex, apparently: AAA's chief operating officer, Marshall L. Doney, claims that after the last few brutal winter months, Americans want to actually enjoy the warmer weather by getting out of town. (We certainly understand that.) It's also thanks to the economy, stupid: consumer spending is up (as are auto sales, while gas prices hae stayed relatively steady), all of which helps boost traveler numbers.
Here's how the numbers break down:
More people are planning to travel by car than any other mode of transport—in fact, 88 percent of all Memorial Day travelers will be going somewhere in an automobile. But gas prices are about the same as they were in 2013, at around $3.65 per gallon, so don't expect to pay that much less to refuel on your road trip.
The number of air travelers is also going up: 2.6 million people will take a flight somewhere this weekend, an increase of about 2 percent over last year. They weren't dissuaded by the rise in airline costs, up about six percent since 2013.
The biggest gain is in that nebulous "other" category, including cruises, trains, and buses, which will see a 6.5 percent increase in travelers this weekend. (Because hey, why go through the stress of driving to a destination when you can have someone else do it for you?)
With that many people traveling all at once, it could be easy to let road rage get the best of you. But if you want to avoid the stress, try taking our advice: Download a few apps that will make a long car ride easier, stock up on snacks for the road, and maybe think about taking the rest of today off (your boss will totally understand) and getting out there early. Oh, and have fun!
[via USA Today]