5 questions: Safe travels
Labor Day weekend is often referred to as the last weekend of summer. What is the outlook for travel during the approaching three-day weekend? AAA Auto Club has the answers, based on research by HIS Global Insight, a Boston-based consulting firm, and reservation data from 1,000 AAA offices in North America.
Q. How many people are expected to be traveling for the Labor Day weekend?
A. It is estimated that 34.4 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home between Sept. 2 and Sept. 6. That’s up nearly 10 percent from 2009, which was one of the lowest Labor Day volumes in AAA’s record-keeping history. But it’s still well below the 45 million who traveled during that time in 2008.
Q. What’s behind the increase in travel this year?
A. AAA travel services director Glen MacDonnell thinks it’s an indication of some pent-up demand for trips. However, those people are watching their budgets carefully because they worry about the sluggish economy.
Q. How much are people willing to spend on these trips?
A. The average traveler will spend around $697 over the weekend, which is around $50 more than last year.
Q. What will prices be like for traveling?
A. Those that are driving will get a break as gasoline prices have remained relatively stable and below $3 per gallon during the summer. AAA projects the average price of a gallon of unleaded regular gas will range between $2.65 and $2.75 during the weekend. However, prices for other travel will be higher. Airfares are up about 9 percent from Labor Day 2009, car rental rates are up 7 percent and hotel room rates are 2 percent to 6 percent higher than last year.
Q. How far will people be traveling and how will they do it?
A. Most Americans will stay near home, driving mostly to visit relatives or friends during the holiday. The average round trip is expected to be around 635 miles, compared to 645 miles in 2009 — whether that’s by air, car or other means. About 91 percent of the travel will be by car, 5 percent by air and the rest by rail, bus or boat. Of those surveyed, the most frequently mentioned activities during travel were dining, shopping and visiting with family and friends.