Tonawanda News —
More Americans are expected to travel over Memorial Day than last year by a slight margin, according to projections made by the American Automobile Association this week.
The organization projects 36.1 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 1.5 percent increase from the 35.5 million people who traveled in 2013, with eight out of 10 travelers driving to their destination from May 22 to May 26.
If those projections turn out to be true, those numbers would make 2014 the second-highest travel volume since 2000.
"As we enter into the summer travel season, thoughts of our cold, relentless winter are still fresh in the minds of many Upstate New Yorkers," said Tony Spada, president of AAA Western and Central New York. "The winter blues combined with an improving economy and consumer confidence have given Americans the travel bug, and we expect a new post-recession high for Memorial Day travel."
While the number of travelers expected to travel will rise, so too will gas prices, with New York's average gallon of petroleum going for $3.89, up about 16 cent over 2013. Western New York's current gasoline average is $3.83, about an 11 cent uptick over last year.
Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase just 2 percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $169 per night compared to $166 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen 3 percent with an average cost of $124 per night, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index.
Weekend daily car rental rates will average $44, only 1 percent higher than last year. The average round-trip, discounted airfares for the top 40 U.S. routes have increased 6 percent to $227 from $215 last year.
The organization noted that AAA Western and Central New York members are most interested in parks, camping, hiking trails and waterfalls, while those leaving upstate New York take shorter getaways, mostly to the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic region.