Holiday travel for Memorial Day weekend expected to increase this year

Travelers make their way through the Bainbridge Island Ferry Terminal. - Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review
Travelers make their way through the Bainbridge Island Ferry Terminal.
— image credit: Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review

AAA is forecasting a busier Memorial Day holiday weekend for travelers across the country this year — the biggest since the start of the Great Recession.

The organization estimates that 36.1 million Americans will journey 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 last year. Kicking off the summer driving season, nearly nine in 10 travelers will be traveling to their destinations in their automobile.

The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 22 to Monday, May 26.

“AAA anticipates Memorial weekend travel volumes to remain consistent with past upward trends, with automobile travel remaining the number one choice for travelers,” said Jennifer Cook of AAA Washington. “Many parts of the country are coming out of a harsh winter season, which along with improved consumer spending and confidence, has contributed to an uptick in the number of people expected to travel across the nation this holiday.”

The 2014 forecast is 2.6 percent higher than the 10-year historical average and the second highest travel volume since 2000.

Travel by modes of transportation including cruise, trains and buses will see the largest increase, up 6.5 percent (1.7 million travelers). Eighty-eight percent of travelers (31.8 million) are anticipated to travel by automobile, which is a slight increase from 31.4 million last year, and holiday air travel is expected to increase 2.4 percent to 2.6 million.

Also, AAA expects most drivers will pay lower gas prices by Memorial Day weekend due to rising supplies. AAA expects holiday gas prices to be relatively similar or even slightly less than last year’s national average.

The current national average price is $3.64 for a gallon of regular gas.

Gas prices in Washington are averaging $3.89 per gallon for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline, up 6 cents during the past month, but lower than the $4 per gallon price of a year ago.

Officials with the Washington State Department of Transportation are advising travelers to expect an increase on typical holiday travel routes, including Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass, U.S. 2 over Stevens Pass, Interstate 5 through Thurston and Pierce counties and I-5 between Bellingham and the U.S./Canada border.

Washington State Ferries expects heavy traffic Memorial Day weekend, and suggests that ferry riders consider traveling outside of peak times. Holiday schedules and other information can be found online or by calling 888-808-7977.


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