PROVIDENCE – AAA Southern New England projects a 1.2 percent increase in Memorial Day travel, but says Americans will stay closer to home to save money.
The trade group estimates that 34.8 million U.S. residents will travel 50 miles or more from their home during the holiday period between Thursday, May 24 and Monday, May 28. This number is up roughly 500,000 travelers from 2011 numbers.
According to a survey of traveler intentions, the average distance traveled during the holiday weekend is expected to drop 19 percent to 642 miles from 792 miles during the same period last year.
AAA said that 10.6 percent of New Englanders will travel during the Memorial Day holiday.
Overall travel out of New England is expected to grow 0.4 percent from 2011 numbers, and travel by car is expected to increase 0.6 percent while air travel is expected to drop 6.2 percent compared with the 2011 holiday weekend.
“The overall domestic economic picture continues to improve slightly. However, American consumers faced a new challenge this year as steadily increasing gas prices throughout the spring significantly squeezed many household budgets,” AAA Southern New England Senior Vice President of Public and Government Affairs Lloyd P. Albert said in prepared remarks.
A survey of intended weekend travelers found that 53 percent said recent rises in gas prices would not impact their Memorial Day travel plans.
Nine percent of travelers said they planned to take a shorter trip, 4 percent said they would travel by an alternate mode of transportation and 34 percent of travelers said they would make up for high gas prices by economizing in other areas.
“Americans will still travel during the Memorial Day holiday weekend but, many will compensate for reduced travel budgets by staying closer to home and cutting entertainment dollars,” said Albert.