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Labor Day travel could hit four-year high

  • Article by: KERRI WESTENBERG
  • Star Tribune
  • August 23, 2013 - 1:50 PM

According to AAA Travel, travel for the Labor Day holiday weekend will rebound this year with the highest number of people hitting the road since the recession-driven decline.

The travel club is predicting that 34.1 million Americans will take a getaway at least 50 miles from home, the most since 2009 when 31.3 million defied the economic downturn by taking a weekend vacation. That represents a 4.2 percent increase over last year.

AAA attributes the uptick to “the increasingly positive economic outlook and optimism in the housing market.” If people have confidence about the value of their home, they’re more likely to leave it in the dust while they live it up elsewhere.

The average traveler will journey 594 miles round-trip and spend $804. Holiday air travel is expected to increase 3 percent to 2.61 million fliers. But cars will be the vehicles of choice for 85 percent of travelers.

Gas prices may be encouraging hesitant travelers. As of mid-August, prices were, on average, down 2.7 percent per gallon compared to the same time last year. Last year’s average price for gas on Labor Day was $3.83 per gallon, the most expensive average on record for the holiday. The current national average price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.54. A late-summer hurricane and refinery problems could change that, AAA warns, but short of that, the price trend looks good for drivers.

If cost is a concern, consider staying at a hotel with a two-diamond rating from AAA. These hotels will, on average, be cheaper than they were last year, though the price of higher rated hotels have gone up.

 

Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.

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