Labor Day Travel, Spending Expected to Increase This Year

by | 3 minute read

AAA has pro­ject­ed the num­ber of Amer­i­cans trav­el­ing this Labor Day hol­i­day week­end will increase 9.9% from 2009, with approx­i­mate­ly 34.4 mil­lion trav­el­ers tak­ing a trip at least 50 miles away from home. Last year, 31.3 mil­lion Amer­i­cans trav­eled dur­ing the Labor Day hol­i­day. The 2010 Labor Day hol­i­day trav­el peri­od is defined as Thurs­day, Sep­tem­ber 2 to Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 6.

"While media reports on the state of the U.S. econ­o­my are mixed, many Amer­i­cans are still inter­est­ed in tak­ing one more trip as the sum­mer trav­el sea­son comes to a close," said Glen Mac­Donell, direc­tor, AAA Trav­el Ser­vices. "It is encour­ag­ing to see more Amer­i­cans plan­ning to trav­el to vis­it fam­i­ly, friends and excit­ing vaca­tion des­ti­na­tions."

The increase in trav­el for Labor Day appears to be the result of eco­nom­ic improve­ment over the past year. While job growth has been dis­ap­point­ing, gross domes­tic prod­uct, house­hold net worth and con­sumer con­fi­dence have increased, while con­sumer debt has decreased. The U.S. trav­el indus­try began to gain trac­tion in the fourth quar­ter of 2009 and that momen­tum has con­tin­ued this year.

In addi­tion to eco­nom­ic data, the date of the Labor Day hol­i­day is anoth­er vari­able con­sid­ered in the fore­cast. The ear­li­er the hol­i­day falls in Sep­tem­ber, the more trav­el tends to occur. Although the growth in Labor Day trav­el is pre­dict­ed to be strong at 9.9%, had the hol­i­day fall­en ear­li­er in the month the fore­cast­ed num­ber of trav­el­ers would like­ly be even high­er.

Air and car trips to increase

Trips by auto­mo­bile are expect­ed to increase in pop­u­lar­i­ty with 91% of trav­el­ers, or 31.4 mil­lion peo­ple, reach­ing their des­ti­na­tion by dri­ving. This is an increase of 10.3% from last Labor Day when 28.5 mil­lion trav­el­ers went by motor vehi­cle. Bar­ring any major trop­i­cal storm activ­i­ty in the Gulf Coast region, AAA expects the nation­al aver­age price of self-serve reg­u­lar gaso­line to be between $2.65 and $2.75 per gal­lon dur­ing this hol­i­day week­end. Leisure air trav­el is expect­ed to account for just five per­cent of over­all trav­el with 1.62 mil­lion hol­i­day fly­ers. This is an increase of 4.6% from one year ago when 1.54 mil­lion flew. Trips by oth­er modes, includ­ing rail, bus and water­craft, will be the dom­i­nant means of trav­el used by four per­cent of all trav­el­ers.

Medi­an spend­ing increas­es; aver­age dis­tance trav­eled decreas­es

Based on a sur­vey of trav­el­er inten­tions, the aver­age dis­tance trav­eled by Amer­i­cans this Labor Day hol­i­day week­end is expect­ed to be 635 miles, slight­ly less than one year ago (645 miles). Medi­an spend­ing is expect­ed to be $697 this Labor Day, near­ly $50 more than last year when medi­an spend­ing was esti­mat­ed at $650. Din­ing (63%); shop­ping (47%) and vis­it­ing with friends and rel­a­tives (43%) were named as the three top pri­ma­ry activ­i­ties by trav­el­ers this Labor Day week­end.

Air­fares, hotel and rental car rates increase over hol­i­day com­pared to 2009

Accord­ing to AAA's Leisure Trav­el Index, air­fares over the Labor Day hol­i­day week­end are expect­ed to increase nine per­cent from last year with the low­est round-trip rates mov­ing up to $179 for the top 40 U.S. air routes. Week­end dai­ly car rental rates will increase sev­en per­cent to an aver­age of $46. Hotel rates for AAA Three Dia­mond lodg­ings are expect­ed to increase six per­cent from a year ago with trav­el­ers spend­ing an aver­age of $139 per night com­pared to $132 last year. Trav­el­ers plan­ning to stay at AAA Two Dia­mond hotels can expect to pay two per­cent more at an aver­age cost of $102 per night.

[Source:  "AAA / IHS Glob­al Insight 2010 Labor Day hol­i­day fore­cast."  AAA/ IHS Glob­al Insight.  25 Aug. 2010.  Web.  26 Aug. 2010.]