HAMILTON, NJ – Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, and Americans will kick off the season by traveling in near-record numbers. According to AAA, more than one million New Jersey residents will travel this Memorial Day Weekend, nearly 5 percent more than last year and the most in more than a dozen years.  Nationally, 41.5 million Americans will travel for the holiday up 5 percent year over year.  The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 24 to Monday, May 28. 

Approximately 1,020,122 New Jersey residents will travel 50 miles or more for the Memorial Day holiday weekend in 2018, an increase of 4.8 percent, compared to the 973,717 who traveled in 2017.

The majority of New Jerseyans 918,847 (90 percent), plan to travel by automobile, up 4.7 percent from the 877,399 who drove to their holiday destination last year and the highest volume of automobile travelers since 2005.  Those taking to the skies will also see increased congestion at the airports as air travel is up 7 percent from 2017 accounting for 71,138 New Jersey residents.

“The highest gas prices since 2014 won’t keep travelers home this Memorial Day weekend,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “A strong economy and growing consumer confidence are giving Americans all the motivation they need to kick off what we expect to be a busy summer travel season with a Memorial Day getaway.”

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

While AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Memorial Day gas prices since 2014, the vast majority of holiday travelers (90 percent New Jersey/88 percent nationally) are still planning to hit the road. Nationally, automobile travel will grow by 4.7 percent this Memorial Day, with 36.6 million Americans planning a holiday road trip. Today’s New Jersey average gas price is $2.99 per gallon, which is 62 cents more than one year ago but is unlikely to deter New Jersey motorist from hitting the road. 

NJ gas prices for Memorial Day for the past five years:

  • 2013 $3.42
  • 2014 $3.50
  • 2015 $2.54
  • 2016 $2.15
  • 2017 $2.40

Travel Breakdown:

Automobile

  • New Jersey—918,847 (90% of all travelers), up 4.7% compared to the 877,847 who drove in 2017.
  • Nationally—36.6 million (88% of all travelers), a 4.7% increase from the 35 million who drove last year.

Air

  • New Jersey—71,138 (7% of all travelers), up 7.1% from 66,397 last year.
  • Nationally—3.1 million (7.5% of all travelers), an increase of 6.8% from Memorial Day Weekend 2017.

Train, Bus, Watercraft or Multi-Modal Travel

  • New Jersey—30,137 (3.% of all travelers), up 0.7% from 2017.
  • Nationally—About 1.8 million (4.3% of all travelers), an increase of 2.4% from the 2017 holiday weekend.

Drivers Beware: Worst Times to Hit the Road

With an increase in travel comes an increase in congestion, for the 36.6 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday, May 24 and Friday, May 25 – in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Several major U.S. metros could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip, while New Yorkers could see three times the delay.

Lower hotel, airline and car rental costs make up for higher gas prices

While road trippers will pay higher prices at the gas pump this year, travelers can expect some relief in their wallets when paying for airfare, car rentals and most mid-range hotels. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares are 7 percent lower than last Memorial Day, landing at an average price of $168 for a round-trip flight along the top 40 domestic routes. At $59, the average daily cost of a car rental this Memorial Day is the lowest rate in the past four years and 11 percent cheaper than last year.

Travelers will also save on AAA Three Diamond hotels this Memorial Day, which are trending 14 percent less expensive than last year, with an average rate of $186 nightly. Meanwhile, AAA Two Diamond hotels are 7 percent more expensive than last Memorial Day, with an average nightly cost of $151.

Download the AAA Mobile app before a Memorial Day getaway
Before setting out for Memorial Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

About the travel forecast
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast is available here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.