More than 34 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home during Labor Day weekend, up 1.3 percent from a year ago, and the highest volume for the holiday since 2008.
AAA forecasts that nearly 30 million people, representing about 86 percent of all holiday travelers, will take a final road trip before summer comes to a close and children head back to school. The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, Aug. 28, to Monday, Sept. 1.
AAA says 11 percent of the population in the Mountain Region will travel during the holiday time period, accounting for more than 2.5 million trips. Some 177,500 Idahoans are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home, with 147,000 going by car.
“Modest gains in the economy mean more Americans are joining the labor force this year,” said Dave Carlson, director of public and government affairs for AAA Idaho. “So it seems appropriate that those who contribute to the strength and prosperity of our country are able to celebrate Labor Day with one last summer trip.”
Consumer spending is expected to rise in the third quarter, in spite of stagnant income growth. IHS Global Insight, a Colorado-based business information provider that teams with AAA to formulate the holiday travel projections, says economic drivers including employment, household income and consumer spending trends are accurate predictors of travel behaviors.
AAA said Americans appear more optimistic about their financial situation.
“Consumer spending continues to outpace disposable income, indicating Americans are comfortable using their credit cards to take one last summer vacation this year,” Carlson said.
Most of the 29.7 million motorists expected to hit the road on Labor Day will pay less for gas this year compared to last. The U.S. average price of $3.44 is down 13 cents in the past month and 9 cents lower than a year ago.
Idahoans will pay an average price of $3.77 a gallon for regular grade gasoline, 33 cents more than their national counterparts, but 5 cents less than a year ago. AAA says higher Idaho pump prices will have little impact on the number of people traveling, but noted that Idahoans will have to allocate more of their holiday travel budgets to fuel costs.
Auto travel is expected to increase by a modest 1.4 percent this year, and will account for 85.7 percent of total holiday travel.
“Road trips are a popular way for Americans to get away, because they provide more flexibility in trip length and last-minute changes,” Carlson said.
This particular holiday lends itself to shorter trips, such as getaways to state parks or campgrounds and visits with family and friends.
AAA expects that 2.65 million travelers, representing 7.6 percent of all travel, will fly to their destination. Other forms of travel, including rail, cruise and bus, will account for 2.3 million travelers, or 6.7 percent of travelers.
Here’s a look at other travel numbers:
- Air travelers will encounter airfares 2 percent higher than last year, costing $219 for discounted fares for the top 40 U.S. routes.
- Daily car rentals will average $51, consistent with a year ago.
- Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase 6 percent from a year ago, averaging $171 per night. Hotel rates for AAA Two Diamond lodgings are up 9 percent, with an average per-night cost of $125.
AAA Idaho is affiliated with AAA Oregon/Idaho, providing more than 750,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. AAA serves 54 million member motorists in North America.