Memorial Day Travel Sets the Stage for Soaring Summer Travel

AAA expects nearly 1.5 million Ohioans will travel for the unofficial start of summer

PRESS RELEASE – The unofficial start to summer will be the busiest since 2019. AAA predicts 39.2 million people (nearly 1.5 million Ohioans) will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, May 26-30. This is an increase of 8.3% over 2021 (6.9% increase for Ohio) and brings volumes closer to pre-pandemic levels.

“Memorial Day is always a good predictor of what’s to come for summer travel,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “Based on our projections, summer travel isn’t just heating up, it will be on fire. People are overdue for a vacation and they are looking to catch up on some much-needed R&R in the coming months.”

Holiday Road Trips Remain Popular:

Despite historic gas prices, breaching the $4 mark in early March and Ohio’s average hitting record highs this month, 34.9 million Americans (nearly 1.4 million Ohioans) plan to travel by car. This is up 4.6% over last year nationally (4.1% in Ohio).

While road trips remain the main form of travel this holiday, a greater portion of travelers are opting for air and other modes of travel than last year. Share of car travel for Ohio travelers is expected to fall from 94% in 2021 to 92%. However, it’s still expected to be higher than 2019, when 90% of Ohio travelers drove to their destination.

Travelers should expect busy roads this holiday weekend, particularly during the afternoons on Thursday May 26 and Friday May 27, according to INRIX. Drivers in major U.S. metros could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip.

“Even with a significant increase in gas prices, we expect a large jump in holiday driving compared to the last few years”, says Bob Pishue, transportation analyst, INRIX. “Drivers should expect congestion on major roadways around big cities and popular destinations. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

Daily Worst and Best Times to Travel (source, INRIX):

  • Thursday: Worst time, 1-8 p.m. Best time, before 6 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Friday: Worst time, noon-7 p.m. Best time, before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Saturday: Worst time, 1-6 .m. Best time, before 10 a.m.
  • Sunday: Worst time, 1-4 p.m. Best time, before 10 a.m.
  • Memorial Day: Worst time, 1-4 p.m. Best time, before 11 a.m.

AAA recommends drivers prepare for their holiday road trip by getting a full vehicle inspection. AAA expects to respond to more than 388,000 calls for help over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. To help avoid breakdowns, get key components checked like the battery, fuel system, tires, brakes and fluid levels. Just in case, make sure your vehicle’s emergency kit is fully stocked.

Air Travel Soars:

Air travel continues to rebound, up 25% over last year (19.5% in Ohio). With volumes closing in on pre-pandemic levels, AAA urges travelers to prepare for busy airports this holiday weekend.

Air travel volume began to rally last Thanksgiving and will hit levels just shy of 2019 this Memorial Day weekend, with 3 million Americans (more than 71,000 Ohioans) expected to take to the skies.

Air travel will also account for a larger share of the overall travel volume this Memorial Day weekend, with 7.7% of American travelers (4.8% of Ohio travelers) flying. Last Memorial Day, air travel accounted for 6.7% of national travel (4.2% of Ohio travel).

Based on AAA booking data, Thursday, May 26, is shaping up to be the busiest day for air travel during the Memorial Day travel period, with Memorial Day being the lightest.

“Air travel has faced several challenges since the beginning of the year,” continued Twidale. “With the type of volume we anticipate, we continue to recommend the safety net of a travel agent and travel insurance. Both are a lifesaver if something unexpectedly derails your travel plans.”

Higher Travel Costs:

Flights, car rentals, accommodations, tours, cruises and other activities are in high demand and availability is filling up. Prices are skewing higher, and with greater demand, finding last-minute deals is unlikely.

  • Air—AAA finds that the average lowest airfare is 6% more than last year coming in at $184/ticket with Saturday being the most expensive day to fly and Memorial Day the least.
  • Hotels—Mid-range hotel rates have increased about 42%, with the average lowest nightly rates ranging between approximately $199 – $257/night for AAA Approved Hotels.
  • Car Rentals—Daily car rental rates have decreased 16% compared to last year, with the average lowest rate coming in at $100/day.

Record Growth for Cruises, Buses and Trains:

Travel by other modes of transportation is expected to grow by 200% nationally (206% in Ohio), the highest year-over-year growth on record.

A recent AAA survey found cruise vacations are still a favorite choice among travelers, with 41% of Americans considering a cruise in the future. Millennials are even more eager, as over half (52%) say they are ready to return to the open seas. AAA Travel booking data shows that cruising is making a strong comeback, with 2022 bookings near pre-pandemic levels.

Despite the growth, travel by all other modes of transportation (cruises, buses and trains) remains almost 30% below 2019 levels nationally (36% in Ohio) this Memorial Day weekend.

Big Cities and Beaches are Top Destinations

AAA booking data reveals that big cities and beaches are top destinations this Memorial Day, both domestically and abroad.

Top U.S. destinations include:

  1. Orlando, FL
  2. Seattle, WA
  3. Miami, FL
  4. Las Vegas, NV
  5. Anaheim, CA
  6. New York, NY
  7. Denver, CO
  8. Anchorage AK
  9. Boston, MA
  10. Honolulu, HI

Top international destinations include:

  1. Vancouver, Canada
  2. Dublin Ireland
  3. Paris, France
  4. Rome, Italy
  5. London, England
  6. Cancun, Mexico
  7. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  8. Barcelona, Spain
  9. Nassau, Bahamas
  10. Calgary, Canada

Remember – Stay Safe and Patient

AAA suggests reducing stress by:

  • Arriving at the airport at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours for international.
  • Consider booking a flight during non-peak travel periods to cut down on wait times.
  • Hitting the road when there’s less traffic and allowing extra time when traveling to your destination.

While most COVID-19 restrictions have eased, it’s important to keep safety in mind for yourself and others. Everything from airports to restaurants to attractions will be busier this Memorial Day, which means more people congregating. AAA advises travelers to follow CDC guidance, which at this time is still recommending that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings (airports, bus/train terminals, public transportation like subways/metros, airplanes, trains and buses).

Forecast Methodology:

In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit– a world leader in critical information, analytics and expertise — developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from IHS Markit’s proprietary databases. These data include macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays. AAA and IHS Markit have quantified holiday travel volumes going back to 2000.

Historical travel volume estimates come from DK SHIFFLET’s TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/Monitorsm. The PERFORMANCE/Monitorsm is a comprehensive study measuring the travel behavior of U.S. residents. DK SHIFFLET contacts over 50,000 U.S. households each month to obtain detailed travel data, resulting in the unique ability to estimate visitor volume and spending, identify trends, and forecast U.S. travel behavior —all after the trips have been taken. 

The travel forecast is reported in person-trips. In particular, AAA and IHS Markit forecast the total U.S. holiday travel volume and expected mode of transportation. The travel forecast presented in this report was prepared the week of April 11, 2022.

About AAA

Started in 1902 by automotive enthusiasts who wanted to chart a path for better roads in America and advocate for safe mobility, AAA has transformed into one of North America’s largest membership organizations. Today, AAA provides roadside assistance, travel, discounts, financial and insurance services to enhance the life journey of 62 million members across North America, including 56 million in the United States. To learn more about all AAA has to offer or to become a member, visit

INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. INRIX’s partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

Media Contact for INRIX
Mark Burfeind
(425) 284-3825

About S&P Global

S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI) provides essential intelligence. We enable governments, businesses and individuals with the right data, expertise and connected technology so that they can make decisions with conviction. From helping our customers assess new investments to guiding them through ESG and energy transition across supply chains, we unlock new opportunities, solve challenges and accelerate progress for the world. We are widely sought after by many of the world’s leading organizations to provide credit ratings, benchmarks, analytics and workflow solutions in the global capital, commodity and automotive markets. With every one of our offerings, we help the world’s leading organizations plan for tomorrow, today. For more information, visit

About DKSA

DK SHIFFLET boasts the industry’s most complete database on U.S. resident travel both in the U.S. and worldwide. Data is collected monthly from a U.S. representative sample, adding over 60,000 traveling households annually and is used daily by leading travel organizations and their strategic planning groups. DK SHIFFLET is an MMGY Global company.


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