AAA: 39 Million Americans including 530,000 Oregonians to Travel for Memorial Day

2022 Travel Volume Rebounds to 2017 Levels

Updated May 27, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore., – The unofficial start to summer will be a busy one this year as AAA predicts 39.2 million people (11.8% of the population) will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend. This is an increase of 8.3% over 2021, bringing travel volumes almost in line with those in 2017.

In the Pacific Region, Region (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA), 6.7 million people (12.5% of the population) are expected to travel, an 8.1% increase compared to 2021. About 530,000 Oregonians will travel over the long weekend. The Memorial Day travel period is defined as Thursday, May 26 through Monday, May 30.

2022 Memorial Day Travel Forecast

“Memorial Day is always a good predictor of what’s to come for summer travel and based on our projections, this will be an extremely busy season,” says Doreen Loofburrow, Senior Vice President of Travel at AAA Oregon/Idaho. “People are eager to take vacations after staying close to home during the pandemic.”

While most people will drive to their Memorial Day destinations, air travel continues to rebound, up 25% over last year, the second-largest increase since 2010. With travel volumes closing in on pre-pandemic levels, AAA urges travelers to book now and remember flexibility is key this Memorial Day weekend.

“Plan, plan and then plan some more,” adds Loofburrow. “If you haven’t booked your Memorial Day and summer travel yet, do it as soon as possible. Flights, rental cars, accommodations, camping, tours, cruises and other activities are in high demand and availability is filling up. Prices are already skewing higher and with greater demand, finding last-minute deals is unlikely.”

“Be as flexible as possible – look to travel on off-peak times or days, pick a hidden gem closer to home, or opt to stay at an all-inclusive resort with plenty of on-site activities. This limits the need for a rental car and paying a la carte for entertainment and dining,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho.

2022 Memorial Day Travel Forecast

Travel agents, travel insurance are travel essentials:

AAA recommends working with a travel agent and considering travel insurance options. “A travel agent is an expert on the destinations you’ll be visiting and can help you plan and organize a trip that meets your needs and budget. And if something goes wrong or you need to make last-minute changes, your travel agent becomes your advocate,” says Loofburrow.

AAA strongly recommends travel insurance to cover unexpected delays or trip interruptions. Travel insurance provides a safety net should something unexpected happen ahead of or during your trip. Travel agents can also advise on what travel insurance policy makes the most sense for your trip.

Visit AAA.com/travel or call (800) 529-3222 to reach a AAA travel agent.

Stay safe

While most COVID-19 restrictions have eased, it’s important to keep safety in mind for yourself and others. Find AAA’s latest COVID-19 information for travelers here. Extra precautions can include:

  • Traveling with your bubble. This type of travel rose to popularity during the pandemic when many opted to vacation with people they were in close contact with. Consider taking a group trip to divvy up costs for things like activities and accommodations. If everyone is spread out, a travel agent can help manage the logistics.
  • When booking a place to stay, look for accommodations that prioritize cleanliness and have implemented additional housekeeping standards since the start of the pandemic. In 2021, AAA enhanced its housekeeping evaluation to include objective, scientific validation of the cleanliness of common surfaces throughout hotels. Hotels that meet these new standards are now recognized as Inspected Clean. Look for this designation or to browse all of AAA’s Diamond properties, click here.
  • Everything from airports to restaurants to attractions will be busier this Memorial Day, which means more people congregating. AAA advises travelers to follow CDC guidance, which at this time, is still recommending that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings (airports, bus/train terminals, public transportation like subways/metros, airplanes, trains and buses).

Top Memorial Day Destinations

AAA booking data reveals that big cities and beaches are the most popular destinations domestically and abroad, based on searches and bookings by members of AAA Oregon/Idaho:

2022 Top Memorial Day Destinations for members of AAA Oregon/Idaho
U.S Destinations International Destinations
Orlando, FL Vancouver, Canada
Maui, HI Dublin, Ireland
Anaheim, CA Paris, France
Las Vegas, NV Rome, Italy
Seattle, WA London, England
Denver, CO Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Honolulu, HI Amsterdam, Netherlands
San Francisco, CA Barcelona, Spain
Salt Lake City, UT Cancun, Mexico
Boston, MA Calgary, Canada

Other favorite regional destinations for Memorial Day include the Oregon coast, central Oregon, and Crater Lake.

AAA offers an entire library of digital resources to make your trip more enjoyable and it’s all available in one convenient spot at AAA.com/maps. Digital TourBooks are filled with points of interest and other helpful information. You can download entire books or print the pages you’d like to bring with you. The TripTik Travel Planner provides turn-by-turn directions to keep you on the best route. With the AAA mobile app, you can request emergency road service, book a last-minute hotel, and even find the cheapest fuel and closest EV charging stations along the way. Download it at AAA.com/mobile.

2022 Memorial Day Travel Forecast

Road trips most popular way to travel

 Even with record-high gas prices, 88.9% of Memorial Day travelers will drive to their destinations. In all, 34.9 million Americans will go by car, an increase of 4.6% over 2021.

In Oregon, roughly 445,000 will drive to their Memorial Day destinations.

Air Travel sees significant jump; travel by other modes triples

Air travel will continue its rapid rebound in 2022, growing 25% this year to 3.01 million air travelers, just shy of 2019 levels. About 7.7% of all Memorial Day travelers will fly to their Memorial Day destinations—this share is greater than 2019 when 7.5% flew.

In Oregon, approximately 55,000 will fly to their Memorial Day destinations.

Airlines have experienced everything from pilot and staffing shortages to delays caused by severe weather and mechanical issues. This has resulted in flight cancellations which have been a recurring issue in the last year as air travel began to rebound.

“Air travel volume began to rally last Thanksgiving, and the industry has faced several challenges in keeping up with demand,” says Loofburrow. “With the type of volume we anticipate for Memorial Day and summer travel, AAA continues to recommend the safety net of a travel agent and travel insurance. Both are a lifesaver if something unexpectedly derails your travel plans.”

Tips for those flying this Memorial Day: 

  • Check your airline’s website or download their app to keep up-to-date on your flight status, including checking one last time right before you leave for the airport.
  • Check in online for flights 24 hours ahead.
  • Arrive at the airport at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours for international. Security lines may be longer than usual due to potential staffing issues and the increase in travelers.
  • Consider booking a flight during non-peak travel periods to cut down on wait times. In general, early morning flights tend to have fewer delays and cancellations than flights later in the day.
  • Sign up for TSA PreCheck before your trip. However, even these expedited security check-in lanes will be busier than usual.
  • Bring all medications in your carry-on bag, as well as snacks and a change of clothes. That way you’ll have provisions if your checked bag gets lost or delayed.
  • Not all airport vendors and restaurants are fully operational so plan ahead for meals and snacks. Some airlines let you pre-order food for your flight.

2022 Memorial Day Travel Forecast

About 3.4% of Memorial Day travelers will travel by other modes including cruise ships, buses, and trains. This is three times as many travelers as in 2021.

2022 Memorial Day Holiday Travelers
Total Automobile Air Other (Bus, Train, Cruise)
2022 (Forecast) 39.2M 34.9M 3.01M 1.33M
2021 (Actual) 36.2M 33.4M 2.41M 440,000
2019 (Actual) 42.8M 37.6M 3.22M 1.90M
Change (2019 to 2022) -8.2% -7.3% -6.3% -29.6%
Change (2021 to 2022) 8.3% 4.6% 25% 199.9%

2022 Memorial Day Travel Forecast

Thursday and Friday Afternoons are Busiest Times on the Roads

INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predicts drivers will encounter the longest travel delays before the holiday weekend, particularly during the afternoons on Thursday, May 26 and Friday, May 27 between about 3 and 7 p.m. Delays on major roads could be two to three times longer than normal travel times as holiday travelers mix with commuters.

“Our advice to car travelers is to avoid leaving during the afternoon and early evening hours on Thursday and Friday. Plan your trip so that you won’t have to drive through urban areas during these times. Count on busy roadways and know that it will probably take you longer than usual to reach your destination,” says Dodds.

The best times to drive over the Memorial Day period are in the early morning and late evening on Thursday and Friday, before 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and before 11 a.m. on Monday.

Daily Worst and Best Times to Travel
Day Worst Time Best Time
Thursday 1:00-8:00pm Before 6:00am or After 9:00pm
Friday 12:00-7:00pm Before 7:00am or After 9:00pm
Saturday 1:00-6:00pm Before 10:00am
Sunday 1:00-4:00pm Before 10:00am
Monday 1:00-4:00pm Before 11:00am
Source: INRIX

Gas prices at record highs

The national and Oregon averages for regular unleaded are at or near record highs. All states have averages above $4 a gallon, while Oregon is now one of a growing number of states that have surpassed $5 a gallon. California becomes the first state to ever have an average at or above $6 a gallon.

The national average is currently $4.60 and the Oregon average is $5.18 (as of May 27). Find current gas prices at https://gasprices.aaa.com/.

Memorial Day Gas Prices 2010 - 2021

While the vast majority of travelers will drive to their Memorial Day destinations, the share of car travel fell from 92.1% last year to 88.9% this year, an indication that higher prices at the pump may be having an impact on how people choose to travel this Memorial Day.

“The record high gas prices are definitely wreaking havoc on people’s budgets. When gas prices are expensive, many travelers will find other ways to save some money, such as shortening the duration of a trip, staying closer to home, limiting restaurant meals and/or eating at moderately priced restaurants, trimming shopping budgets, and looking for free or low-cost activities,” says Dodds.

High fuel prices can also mean higher airfares as well as greater costs for using ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. Trucking costs have already increased due to labor shortages, and the additional expense from record fuel prices make for higher costs for businesses such as hotels, restaurants grocery stores and other retailers, who may pass costs on to consumers.

Hotels, airfare cost more, rental cars cost less this year

Air—AAA finds that the average lowest airfare for U.S. destinations is 6% more than last year coming in at $184 per ticket. Saturday is the most expensive day to fly and Monday the least.

Hotels—AAA two-diamond properties are up about 42% with an average nightly rate of $199. AAA three-diamond properties average $257 per night, also up 42% over last year.

Car Rentals—Daily car rental rates have decreased 16% compared to last year, with the average lowest rate coming in at $100 per day compared to $119 per day last year. This is due to the easing of rental car shortages we saw in 2021.

2022 Memorial Day Travel Forecast

AAA to the rescue this Memorial Day weekend

AAA expects to rescue more than 388,000 motorists nationally and 7,000 in Oregon this Memorial Day weekend, with the most common issues being dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires.

AAA makes it easy to request assistance—by phone or text (1-800-AAA-HELP), app or online—and members can track the service technician’s progress as they make their way to your vehicle.

Make sure your car is road-trip ready. Have your vehicle inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America.

Be prepared for emergencies with a mobile phone and car charger and/or charging cable, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers and pets. Share your itinerary with family or friends so that authorities know where to start looking for you if you don’t reach your destination.

2022 Memorial Day Travel Forecast

Forecast methodology

In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit– a world leader in critical information, analytics and expertise — developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from IHS Markit’s proprietary databases. These data include macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays. AAA and IHS Markit have quantified holiday travel volumes going back to 2000.

Find current fuel prices at GasPrices.AAA.com.

AAA news releases, high resolution images, broadcast-quality video, fact sheets and podcasts are available on the AAA NewsRoom at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

Find local news releases at https://oregon.aaa.com/community/media/media-contacts.html

Fuel prices are updated daily at AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge at AAA Gas Prices. For more info go www.AAA.com.  AAA Oregon/Idaho provides more than 850,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services, and is an affiliate of AAA National, serving more than 62 million motorists in North America.