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Most people will spend Memorial Day at home

AAA says fewer will travel this year, but destinations for those who are going are a bit farther. Gas prices are not a factor, but airline 'fee fatigue' is.

By Mitch Lipka May 22, 2013 3:13PM
Barbecue © Michael Hitoshi, Digital Vision, Getty ImagesMore people will be spending their Memorial Day weekend at home this year as rising airline fees and uncertainty over the economy have made consumers a bit more hesitant to travel, according to a survey released today by AAA.

About 1% fewer people -- 34.8 million compared to 35.1 million last year -- will travel at least 50 miles from home over the Memorial Day weekend, the organization said.

But gas prices, down from the peak in February, are not a factor. The price of a gallon of unleaded gas is averaging $3.66 -- about the same as it was this time last year. About 62% of those surveyed said the price of fuel would have no impact on their plans.

"AAA is forecasting Memorial Day travel  to be slightly lower this year due to an to an up and down economy, the impact of the end of the payroll tax holiday on working families and a 30-year low in the percentage of working age people in the workforce," AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet said.

AAA also noted "fee fatigue" among air travelers as another factor keeping folks closer to home this year. The forecast project 8% fewer people will be flying this weekend.

As usual, most of us who will be traveling this holiday will be going by car. AAA projects a slight increase in auto travelers, up to 31.2 million from 31.1 million last year. But of those leaving home, they plan to go a bit farther than last year -- an average of 690 miles. That's 48 miles more than the average last year. That includes those traveling by air, bus, train and boat. 

What will people be doing during the holiday weekend? The largest percentage -- 59% -- will be visiting with family and friends. Here are some other favored activities, according to the AAA survey: dining (55%), shopping (44%), going to the beach (32%), and sightseeing (27%).

Renting a car? Get out your wallet
AAA projects a slight increase in lodging costs and a big increase in car rental prices -- with an average daily rate of $43 this weekend. That's the highest cost for a Memorial Day weekend since 2009.

The National Association of Convenience Stores -- convenience stores account for the bulk of gasoline sales -- reported that unlike previous years when Memorial Day weekend has seen fuel prices peak, consumers will have a more settled situation this year. 

Looking beyond Memorial Day, there was an upbeat view of summer travel. About 45% of those surveyed said they'll make interstate trips and nearly two-thirds said they would spend at least six days on vacation during the summer. In about half the years since 2000, the association said summer gas prices peaked around Memorial Day.

Retailers surveyed by the association were optimistic they would have a stronger summer in 2013 than they did in 2012. More than 60% project that gas sales will be higher this year.

More from Smart Spending:

May 22, 2013 7:14PM
I plan to stay home and "do nothing".  I'm going to turn off my phone, too, so I don't get any work phone calls either.  

May 26, 2013 1:40PM

In some countries, Memorial Day is a somber day dedicated to the memory of those who gave their lives for their country. It's a school day. People participate in special ceremonies, and keep the memory alive.


In our country, it's a long weekend for barbecues and 50%-off sales. Disgusting.

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