The American Automobile Association (AAA) projects that 39.1 million travelers will take a trip of 50 miles or more away from home over the Sept. 5-7 Labor Day weekend. The numbers represent a decrease of 13.3% from Labor Day 2008, when travel was the highest this decade, at 45.1 million travelers.
The nonprofit AAA’s forecasting partner, IHS Global Insight, believes much of the decline in travel plans can be attributed to Labor Day falling late on the calendar. Labor Day this year is Sept. 7, when the school year is already two to three weeks into the fall session for most school kids, according to the South Florida Business Journal.
Last year, Labor Day fell on Sept. 1, allowing for a long weekend trip before a new school year started in most regions of the country.
In any case, analysts say upcoming holiday travel will be the third strongest for the Labor Day weekend this decade. The second busiest year was 2003, at 41.6 million travelers.
AAA expects the nationwide average price of gasoline to be approximately $2.60 per gallon – one dollar per gallon less than it was in 2008.
“Our forecast shows Labor Day travel will be up over this summer’s 4th of July holiday and that’s a positive sign,” AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet said.
Other Labor Day travel observations by AAA and IHS Global Insight:
- A greater share, 84%, of travelers will travel by auto.
- Four percent are expected to travel by air.
- Auto vacations will be taken by 32.9 million.
- Air trips will be taken by 1.5 million — the lowest number this decade.
- Traveling by other modes — which can include trains, cruises, buses, RVs, personal watercraft, motorcycles or trips that use multiple modes of travel — are expected to reach 4.8 million.
- The average amount spent is projected to be $968 and the average distance traveled will be 645 miles roundtrip.