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AAA: Memorial Day travel to see significant rebound this year

Even though it is still less than pre-pandemic, more people are expected to hit the road for the holiday weekend.
Credit: Denis Rozhnovsky - stock.adobe.com
White car rushing along a high-speed highway in the sun.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As more people get vaccinated and life begins to return to normal, experts are expecting a rebound in Memorial Day travel.

According to AAA, more than 37 million people will travel more than 50 miles from home this year. That's up 60 percent from last year when only 23 million people traveled for the holiday. That was an all-time low since 2000 with AAA started tracking these stats. While the increase will be a welcomed sight for the travel industry, it's still 13 percent or about 6 million people less than 2019, the last pre-pandemic Memorial Day Weekend.

“As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and consumer confidence grows, Americans are demonstrating a strong desire to travel this Memorial Day,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel.

The overwhelming majority of people, 9 out of 10, will be hitting the road this year. 34 million Americans are planning to take a road trip over the holiday weekend. That's up 52 percent compared to 2020, but still 9 percent lower than 2019. Millions still plan to fly, 2.5 million will take a plane to their Memorial Day destination. Nearly six times more than last year which was historically low for air travel.

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AAA is still recommending that people take precautions while traveling, especially those who are not vaccinated. Masks are still required for all passengers, vaccinated or not, on public planes, buses trains and inside all public transportation hubs.

If you are deciding to drive, according to AAA, the worst time to leave are the afternoons of Thursday, May 27 and Friday May 28. Some of the country's busiest metro areas could see traffic congestion up 40 percent.

AAA is also reminding drivers to be ready to pay up to fill up. Gas prices are nearing or over $3.00 per gallon all across the country.