2024 Travel Volume will be Second Busiest on Record

Updated May 25, 2024

PORTLAND, Ore., – Memorial Day 2024 is expected to be the second busiest on record. AAA projects 43.8 million Americans (13% of the population) will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend. This is an increase of 4% over 2023 and comes close to matching the record of 44 million travelers in 2005.

In the Pacific Region, Region (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA), 7.5 million people (14.2% of the population) are expected to travel, a 4.7% increase compared to 2023.

About 600,000 Oregonians will travel over the long weekend. The Memorial Day travel period is defined as Thursday, May 23 through Monday, May 27.

Memorial Day Travel Forecast 2024

“2024 will see the most travelers for Memorial Day in nearly 20 years and will exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2019. In all, nearly two million more people will travel for the unofficial start of summer compared to last year, a sign of a very busy travel season ahead,” says Doreen Loofburrow, Senior Vice President of Travel at AAA Oregon/Idaho.

“This Memorial Day will set records. Road trips will see the highest number ever for the holiday and air travel will rise to the highest volume since 2005,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho.

Memorial Day Travel Forecast 2024
Memorial Day Travel Forecast 2024

Top Memorial Day Destinations

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

Anaheim and Orlando are top domestic destinations as Memorial Day travelers head to theme parks. Seattle, Anchorage, and Vancouver, B.C. rank high because of the popularity of Alaska cruises this time of year. Beaches and cruise ports will also be packed. European cities dominate the list of international destinations.

Memorial Day Travel Forecast 2024

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/TripCanvas.  If you are looking for maps or our Digital TourBooks, visit AAA.com/maps. 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 or visit the App Store or Google Play.

Travel trends for Memorial Day and the rest of summer

As travelers make plans for Memorial Day, the summer travel season, and beyond, AAA Travel is seeing these trends:

  • Bucket lists: Travelers taking once-in-a-lifetime trips
  • Milestones: Families booking anniversary, retirement, and family reunion trips
  • Asia: More travelers interested in visiting Asia, especially Japan
  • Solo trips: More people, especially women, interested in traveling by themselves
  • Luxury vacations: More travelers seeking high-end cruises and tours
  • Trains: Many travelers interested in rail vacations across New England, Canada, and Europe
  • Adventure in nature: Travelers booking trips to Antarctica, Africa, and South Pacific

Road trips will set record

Most Memorial Day travelers – about 88% – will take a road trip. AAA projects 38.4 million people will travel by car over Memorial Day weekend, the highest number for the holiday since AAA began tracking in 2000. The number of drivers this year is up 4% compared to last year and 1.9% higher than in 2019.

In Oregon, roughly 494,000 will drive to their Memorial Day destinations.

“Traveling by car is appealing for many because of the convenience and flexibility it provides, and it can be more cost effective than taking the entire family on flights,” says Dodds.

Memorial Day Travel Forecast 2024

Air travel will see highest volume since 2005; airfares similar to last year

Airports are gearing up for a spike in travelers. AAA expects 3.51 air travelers over the Memorial Day weekend, an increase of 4.8% over last year and 9% jump compared to 2019. In all, about 8% of holiday travelers will fly to their destinations. This will be the most crowded Memorial Day weekend at airports since 2005, when 3.64 million flew for the holiday as the travel industry finally rebounded post 9/11.

In Oregon, more than 63,000 will fly to their Memorial Day destinations.

This Memorial Day weekend, air ticket prices are comparable to last year. AAA booking data shows a 1% to 2% increase in prices for domestic flights. The average cost for a roundtrip domestic flight is $778.

International flights are 4% more expensive compared to last year, averaging $1485 for a roundtrip ticket.

Several factors play into how much travelers pay for airfare, including destination, number of stops, and fare class. For example, passengers who book nonstop flights with seat selection and carry-on bags included will likely pay more than those who select basic economy with a layover.

Memorial Day Travel Forecast 2024

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. Allow push notifications so the airline can alert you of any changes.
  • 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 the spike in travelers.
  • Airport parking lots will likely be at or near capacity. Many airports including Portland International airport let you check current availability. https://www.flypdx.com/Parking
  • Consider taking transit, using a ride sharing service or taxi, or getting a ride with a friend or family member to the airport so you don’t have to park onsite.
  • Avoid checking a bag, if possible, especially if you don’t have a non-stop flight. Bring all medications in your carry-on bag, as well as a change of clothes and any other necessities. That way you’ll have provisions if your checked bag gets lost or delayed.
  • Plan ahead for meals and snacks. Some airlines let you pre-order food for your flight.
  • 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.

Big boost in other modes of travel

AAA projects 1.9 million people will travel by other modes including cruise ships, buses, and trains. This is up 5.6% compared to last year.

“These modes saw significant decreases during the pandemic as cruise lines were shut down and fewer people used public transportation. Five years later, these numbers are back to pre-pandemic levels,” says Loofburrow.

Memorial Day Travel Forecast 2024

Best and worst times to drive

AAA has partnered with INRIX, a global provider of transportation data and insights, to determine the best and worst times to drive over the long holiday weekend. Drivers leaving Thursday or Friday before Memorial Day should hit the road early to avoid mixing with afternoon and evening commuters. Travelers going back home on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday should avoid the afternoon hours when return trips will peak.

On Thursday and Friday afternoons and evenings, delays on major roads could be two times longer than normal travel times as holiday travelers mix with commuters.

“Traffic volumes will be heavier than usual throughout the Memorial Day holiday weekend, but knowing the best and worst times to drive can help you avoid major congestion and delays. Use traffic apps, 511 services and local traffic reports to get the latest info on how traffic is moving.

Try to avoid the peak travel times and avoid driving through urban areas when commuters are also hitting the roads to head home,” says Dodds. “Whenever you go, expect longer travel times than usual to get to your destination.”

Memorial Day Travel Forecast 2024

Here are projected travel times from INRIX showing drive times out of Portland:

Memorial Day Travel Forecast 2024

Gas prices similar to last year

The national and Oregon averages for regular gas are similar to Memorial Day 2023, and significantly less than 2022 when gas prices were at record highs for the holiday.

The national average is currently $3.60 and the Oregon average is $4.32 (as of May 25). Find current gas prices at https://gasprices.aaa.com/

Memorial Day Travel Forecast 2024

Pump prices saw typical spring run-ups this year and have cooled off in the last few weeks. The wildcard remains the price of crude oil, which is impacted by global unrest including the wars between Israel and Hamas, and Russia and Ukraine.

For local news releases on gas prices, visit https://info.oregon.aaa.com/oregon-gas-prices/

Hotels similar, rental cars cost less this year

Hotels—bookings through AAA show that domestic hotels are 5% cheaper this Memorial Day weekend compared to last year. The average cost for a stay (which is typically a few nights) is $500.

International hotels cost about the same as last year with the average at $660.

Car Rentals—domestic car rentals are 17% cheaper this Memorial Day weekend compared to last year. The average total cost for a rental (which is typically for a few days) is $439.

International car rentals are 16% cheaper this Memorial Day weekend compared to 2023. The average total cost for a rental (which is typically for a few days) is $617.

AAA to the rescue this Memorial Day weekend

AAA expects to rescue about 378,000 motorists nationally and 5,000 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.

Find more info on getting road-trip ready at AAA.com/summerprep

Travel agents, travel insurance are travel essentials:

AAA recommends working with a travel agent and considering travel and medical insurance options.

“A travel agent is an expert on the places you want to go and can help you plan a trip that meets your needs and budget. Travel agents can help you get the most out of your travel dollars as they often have access to special offers and rates that aren’t always available to the general public. And if something goes wrong – from a flight cancellation to a medical emergency – or you need to make last-minute changes, your travel agent becomes your advocate,” says Loofburrow.

AAA strongly recommends you consider travel insurance and/or medical insurance to cover unexpected delays or trip interruptions, or medical care you need when away from home. Travel insurance provides a safety net should something unexpected happen ahead of or during your trip. Medical travel insurance can provide coverage for illness and injuries and that may not be included in your regular health insurance plan. Travel agents can also advise on what travel insurance or  medical insurance policy makes the most sense for your trip.

“With a record number of air travelers expected for Memorial Day, AAA recommends that you protect your investment with the peace of mind provided by a travel agent, travel insurance, and medical insurance,” says Loofburrow. “Things can go sideways on your trip and it’s good to be ready if the unexpected happens.”

“And use your AAA membership to find discounts and rewards,” adds Dodds.

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

Memorial Day Travel Forecast 2024

Forecast methodology

In cooperation with AAA, S&P Global Market Intelligence developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from S&P Global Market Intelligence’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 gasoline prices, airline travel, and hotel stays. AAA and S&P Global Market Intelligence have quantified holiday travel volumes going back to 2000.

Historical travel volume estimates come from DK SHIFFLET’s TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/MonitorSM. The PERFORMANCE/MonitorSM is a comprehensive study measuring the travel behavior of U.S. residents. DK SHIFFLET contacts over 50,000 U.S. households each month to obtain detailed travel data, resulting in the unique ability to estimate visitor volume and spending, identify trends, and forecast U.S. travel behavior —all after the trips have been taken.

The travel forecast is reported in person-trips. In particular, AAA and SPGMI forecast the total U.S. holiday travel volume and expected mode of transportation. The travel forecast presented in this report was prepared the week of April 15, 2024.

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 900,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services, and is an affiliate of AAA National, serving more than 64 million motorists in North America.