In their holiday travel survey, AAA projects that the number of Americans traveling on vacation this Memorial Day will increase 5.4 percent to about 32.1 million travelers. Last year, about 30.5 million Americans traveledduring the same period, the auto club said.
However, this year, Americans expect they will spend about $800 on their trip and travel about 626 miles from home, AAA said. This compares with average spending plans of $1,052 and travel distances of about 620 miles last year.
"While the economy continues to be rocked by waves of occasional uncertainty, improved economic performance from one year ago should cause more Americans to take vacations this Memorial Day holiday weekend," said Glen MacDonnell, director of AAA Travel Services.
The findings are consistent with both recent comments from hotel operators such as Loews and Marriottas well as the responses generated by a few other recent travel surveys.
Hotel executives have reported a pick-up in their business, but not enough to raise hotel room rates significantly.
According to AAA research, hotel rates this holiday weekend will be down about 1 percent from last year, on average. Airfares will be unchanged and car rental rates are lower, AAA said.
Still, the majority of travelers will be driving to their destination, with about 87 percent, or 28.0 million reaching their destination that way. The good news for drivers is that AAA doesn't expect gasoline prices to average more than $3.00 a gallon during the holiday weekend.
Other recent holiday surveys also back some of the trends AAA discovered. American Express recently asked 2,000 adults about their summer travel plans and found more than half of them were planning a summer vacation. Among the more affluent respondents, that number was even higher—some 73 percent of those surveyed.
"People are passionate about travel and frequently we find that they would rather find creative ways to reduce the cost of their trip rather than do without it altogether," said Audrey Hendley, vice president of American Express Travel.
On average, travellers expect they will spend about $1,000 per person on travel this summer, but among more affluent travellers the average expected spending jumps to about an average of $6,400 per family of four. Young professionals also expect to spend more than average on their travel, or about an average of $4,800 per family, American Express said.
Driving to a destination rather than flying is the most popular way to cut costs, but some people are planning to stay fewer days or spend less on activities or excursions on their trip.