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AAA reports nearly 35 Million Traveling for Labor Day, Highest since Recession-Driven Decline

1.3 percent more people plan to travel during final summer holiday

AAATampa, FL – AAA Travel projects 34.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, the highest volume for the holiday since 2008 and a 1.3 percent increase over 2013.

Nearly 86 percent of travelers (29.7 million) will celebrate the holiday with a final road trip before summer comes to a close and many children head back to school.

Number of Labor Day Travelers, 2005-2014

The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, August 28th to Monday, September 1st.

“Labor Day travel is forecast to finish the summer with a bang,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA  – The Auto Club Group. “Gas prices are down and consumer spending is up, which should help generate the most travelers for the Labor Day holiday since the record setting 45 million in 2008.”

Highlights from 2014 Labor Day Travel Forecast include:

  • Historically, when Labor Day weekend begins in August, Americans have shown a higher tendency to travel.
  • Consumer spending has surpassed income growth, indicating that Americans are willing to take on debt to finance a vacation.
  • Automobile travel will increase by 1.4 percent this year, with 29.7 million travelers hitting the road.
  • Nearly eight percent of travelers (2.65 million) will travel by air, a one percent increase from last year.
  • Travelers will encounter airfares just two percent higher than last year and daily car rental costs that remain consistent at $51.00.
  • Hotel rates at AAA Two Diamond hotels are nine percent higher than last year and Three Diamond hotels are six percent more.
National & State Numbers Auto Travel Air Travel Other Travel Total Projected Travelers
Nationwide 29.7 million 2.65 million 2.3 million 34.7 million
Florida 1.5 million 131,764 88,116 1.7 million
Georgia 848,146 74,080 49,540 971,766
Tennessee 590,037 28,943 27,199 646,179
View State-Specific Data

Economic improvement spurs travel growth

Consumer spending continues to rise in spite of stagnant income growth. In the third quarter of this year spending is expected to increase 3.8 percent year-over-year, while disposable personal income is only expected to rise 1.4 percent.

Reliance on credit cards, rather than increasing income, is fueling holiday travel spending this year. While economic growth is slow, consumers are feeling more comfortable taking on debt.

“This year, Americans are more optimistic about their financial situation,” continued Jenkins. “Consumer spending continues to outpace disposable income, indicating that Americans are comfortable using their credit cards to finance one last summer vacation this year.”

Labor Day gas prices could reach four-year lows

Most U.S. consumers are paying the lowest gas prices for early August since 2010. AAA expects gas prices to have little impact on the number of people traveling for Labor Day, though lower prices could help make travel more affordable.

Average gas prices for Labor Day, 2014“Barring a major development, such as a Gulf Coast hurricane, prices are likely to remain relatively low leading up to the holiday weekend compared to recent years,” Jenkins continued. “This will allow travelers to allocate more of their budgets towards travel expenses.”

The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $3.44 Wednesday, compared to $3.59 on Labor Day last year. Click here to view historical state-specific prices.

AAA provides the latest gas prices for the nation, states and metro areas at www.FuelGaugeReport.AAA.com .

Airfare and hotel costs rise, car rental fees flat

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase six percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $171.00 per night compared to $161.00 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen nine percent with an average cost of $125.00 per night.

Weekend daily car rental rates will average $51.00, the same as last year. Airfares have risen two percent with the average round-trip, discounted fare for the top 40 U.S. routes costing $219.00, up from $214.00 last year.

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones, available free to members at www.AAA.com/ebooks .

Choose from 101 top North American destinations including cities, like the award-winning Las Vegas title, regions, like Wine Country, and National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android offers GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance.

Members using the iPad version can access interactive Top Destinations travel guides for 10 popular cities. Travelers can learn more at www.AAA.com/mobile

On AAA.com, travelers can find thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at www.AAA.com/Travel .

How they are getting there on Labor DayEvery AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.

More information including an infographic for the AAA / IHS Global Insight 2014 Labor Day Travel Forecast can be found here.

About AAA – The Auto Club Group

AAAThe Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America.  ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 9 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana.

ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 55 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.

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