Despite Sluggish Economy, More Traveling Over Labor Day

If you're taking to the skies this Labor Day holiday, you'll be one of the estimated 2.55 million air travelers, a 3.7 percent rise versus 2011 — despite rising gas prices and a sluggish economy.


The AAA released its 2012 Labor Day Holiday Travel Forecast showing a projected modest increase across all travel sectors. In total, AAA projects 33 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, a 2.9 percent increase from the 32.1 million people who traveled last year. The report was released on August 21, and was produced in collaboration with IHS Global Insight, a consultancy.

Approximately 28.2 million people (85 percent of holiday travelers) will make their Labor Day holiday journey by automobile. This is a 3.1 percent increase over the 27.3 million people who took to the nation’s roadways in 2011, according to the AAA report.

The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, August 30 to Monday, September 3.

According to the report, "The increase in expected travelers is a result of increasing consumer confidence compared to one year ago, despite an economic outlook that remains in 'slow and steady' mode and a recent rise in gas prices that has erased the gas price advantage that had existed since late April."

On the hotel front, travelers staying at AAA Three Diamond lodgings — the likes of Best Western and Starwood's mid-scale brands such as Sheraton — can expect to pay an average of $154 per night, compared to $148 last year — a gain of 4.1 percent.

Best Western spokeswoman Laura Zilverberg tells in an email that, "advance bookings at the 1,900-plus U.S. Best Western hotels are up almost 10 percent this holiday weekend over last."

Early numbers also show that Best Western guests are staying longer, with a 10 percent growth in average length of stay compared to last year's holiday weekend.

While hotel rates are generally up from last year, you'll save some money renting a car. The AAA study shows weekend daily car rental rates will average $39, a 10 percent decline from one year ago.

I'm traveling this holiday weekend as I did last year. Are you?