Labor Day Travel Expected to Reach New Post-​Recession High

Approximately 34.1 million Americans are expected to journey 50 miles or more from home during the upcoming Labor Day holiday, a 4.2% increase from the 32.7 million people who traveled in 2012, according to AAA Travel.  The anticipated increase in holiday travel is predominantly due to increased consumer spending and the improving housing market.  The total number of 2013 Labor Day holiday travelers is expected to reach a new post-​recession high. vacation

Highlights from 2013 AAA Labor Day Holiday Travel Forecast include:

  • Eighty-​five percent of travelers (29.2 million) to travel by automobile, an increase of 4.3%  from 28 million last year
  • Holiday air travel expected to increase nearly three percent to 2.61 million.
  • The largest share of travelers (46%) will depart on Friday, August 30
  • Monday, September  2, is the most popular date of return for holiday trips with 43% planning to return that day
  • The average traveler is expected to travel a round-​trip distance of 594 miles and spend $804


Approximately 29.2 million people (85%) plan to drive to their destination, an increase of 4.3% from the 28 million who drove last year.

Gas prices are unlikely to be a major factor for people in determining whether they will travel this Labor Day. As of mid-​August, prices were on average down 2.7% per gallon compared to the same time year. The average price for gas on Labor Day 2012 was $3.83 per gallon, the most expensive average ever on record for the holiday. The current national average price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.54, 18 cents lower than last year.

AAA forecasts gas prices to remain less expensive than last year based on current trends through the middle of August, but there remains the potential for late-​summer hurricanes and refinery problems that could send prices higher.

However, gas prices remain at a level most Americans consider too high. Half of U.S. adults consider gas prices to be "too high" when it reaches $3.44 per gallon. Forty-​six percent of adults believe gas is too high when it reaches $3.00 per gallon; 61% when it reaches $3.50 per gallon; and 90% when it reaches $4.00 per gallon.


More than 2.61 million leisure travelers (eight percent) will arrive at their destination by air, a slight increase (2.8%) from last year's 2.54 million air travelers.  The remaining seven percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.


According to the survey of intending travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Labor Day holiday weekend is expected to be 594 miles, which is 32 miles less than last year's average of 626 miles.

Median spending during the Labor Day holiday weekend is expected to grow to $804, compared to $749 last year.  Travelers expect to spend 24% of their budget on transportation and lodging and 21% on food and beverages.

During the holiday weekend the most popular activities will be dining (57%), visiting with friends/​family (46%) and shopping (43%).

[Source:  "2013 AAA Labor Day Holiday Travel Forecast."  AAA Travel/​IHS Global Insight.  20 Aug. 2013.  Web.  21 Aug. 2013.]