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ICYMI: AAA: Nearly 1.3 Million Michiganders Expected to Travel for Memorial Day

Michigan Business Network
May 24, 2024 7:00 AM

AAA Cropped

AAA: Nearly 1.3 million Michigan Residents Expected to Travel for the Unofficial Start of Summer

Second highest Memorial Day holiday travel forecast since AAA began tracking in 2000

DEARBORN, Mich., (May 13, 2024) — Michigan residents are forecast to travel in numbers that exceed pre-pandemic levels for this year’s Memorial Day weekend. AAA forecasts nearly 1.3 million Michiganders will travel 50 miles or more. That’s 12,827 more holiday travelers than 2019, and the second highest forecast since AAA began tracking these numbers in 2000.

Total Number of Michigan Travelers






1.29 million

1.17 million




1.24 million

1.12 million








Nationally, AAA also projects the second highest traveled Memorial Day on record. Nearly 43.8 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more during the holiday travel period*. That’s 1.7 million more travelers than last year (4% increase), yet slightly behind 2005’s record of 44 million. 

National Travel Numbers






43.8 million

38.4 million

3.5 million

1.9 million


42 million

36.9 million

3.4 million

1.8 million






“Memorial Day will be the start to a very busy summer of travel,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “American travelers are forecast to surpass pre-pandemic levels, making this the busiest Memorial Day holiday weekend in nearly two decades. The main driver of the projection is strong consumer interest in traveling both domestically and abroad.  Interest in traveling internationally is at the highest level in recent years.”

Memorial Day Travel Chart.png

Road trips are expected to be the second highest on record in Michigan and to set a record nationwide, with nearly 1.5 million more Americans on the road than last year. AAA projects nearly 38.4 million will travel by car over Memorial Day weekend, the highest number for that holiday since AAA began tracking in 2000. The national number of drivers this year is up 4% compared to last year and 1.9% higher than in 2019.

“Traveling by car is appealing for many people because of the convenience and flexibility it provides,” said Adrienne Woodland, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “However, Memorial Day drivers may have to pay more at the gas pump.”

During last year’s holiday weekend, Michigan gas prices averaged $3.60 per gallon. Today, the state average is $3.64. Visit GasPrices.AAA.com to view daily state and metro average prices. Drivers can use the free AAA mobile app to find the lowest gas prices in their area, and get discounted pricing at the pump by participating in the Fuel Rewards Program.

“Drivers should expect continued volatility at the pump as the summer driving season gets underway,” Woodland continued. “The wildcard remains the cost of oil, and unlike last year, there are now two wars – in the Middle East and Ukraine – that could roil the oil market.”

Airports are bracing for a spike in travelers. AAA expects 3.51 million Americans to travel by air this holiday weekend, an increase of 4.8% over last year and 9% jump compared to 2019. 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. This Memorial Day weekend, air ticket prices are comparable to last year.

According to AAA booking data, the average price for a round trip domestic flight will cost $778. That’s 2% more than last year’s holiday weekend. International flights are 4% more expensive – 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.

In reviewing all hotel bookings with AAA, domestic hotels are 5% cheaper this Memorial Day weekend compared to last. The total average cost per stay (which can be multiple nights) is $500. International hotels are about the same as last year. The average cost per stay is $660.

Nearly two million people are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, including buses, cruises, and trains. AAA projects 1.9 million people will take these other modes of transportation, an increase of 5.6% compared to last year.

“This category took the biggest hit during the pandemic,” Haas said. “Now – five years later – we’re back to 2019 numbers. Leading the charge is the resurgence in both ocean and river cruising, which came back extremely strong and continues to gain popularity. With ships of all sizes being introduced each year, there is constantly something new and exciting to explore for first time and repeat cruise enthusiasts.”

Domestic car rentals are 17% cheaper this Memorial Day weekend compared to last. 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 last. Average total cost for a rental (which is typically for a few days) is $617.

  • Cities with the highest rental demand this Memorial Day weekend are Orlando, Denver, Atlanta, Boston, and Las Vegas.
  • The busiest pick-up dates are Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24, with rental reservations averaging five days in length.
  • The most popular vehicle classes reserved for Memorial Day weekend are mid-size and full-size sedans, small and mid-size SUVs.

Best/Worst Times to Drive and Peak Congestion by Metro

INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, says drivers leaving Thursday or Friday should hit the road early to avoid mixing with commuters. Travelers going back home on Sunday or Monday should avoid the afternoon hours when return trips will peak.

“Travel times are expected to be up to 90% longer than normal. Travelers should stay up to date on traffic apps, 511 services, and local news stations to avoid sitting in traffic longer than necessary,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX.

Please note that the times listed below are for the time zone in which the metro is located.

For example, Atlanta routes = ET and Los Angeles routes = PT. 

Best and Worst Times to Travel by Car


Worst Travel Time

Best Travel Time

Thursday, May 23

12:00 - 6: 00 PM

Before 11 AM, After 7PM

Friday, May 24

12:00 - 7:00 PM

Before 11AM, After 8 PM

Saturday, May 25

2:00 - 5:00 PM

Before 1 PM, After 6 PM

Sunday, May 26

3:00 - 7:00 PM

Before 1 PM

Monday, May 27

3:00 - 7:00 PM

After 7 PM

Source: INRIX

Peak Congestion by Metro



Peak Congestion Period

Est. Travel Time

Increase Compared to Typical


Atlanta to Savannah via I-16 E

Saturday 4:45 PM

5 hours 31 minutes



Manchester to Boston via I-93 S

Sunday 8:45 AM

1 hour 48 minutes



Milwaukee to Chicago via I-94 E

Sunday 4:30 PM

2 hours 25 minutes



Fort Collins to Denver via I-25 S

Sunday 4:15 PM

1 hours 24 minutes



Kalamazoo to Detroit via I-94 E

Sunday 8:45 PM

2 hours 48 minutes



Galveston to Houston via I-45 N

Sunday 5:00PM

1 hours 11 minutes


Los Angeles

LA to Bakersfield via I-5 N

Thursday 6:15 PM

2 hours 45 minutes



Eau Claire to Minneapolis via

I-94 W

Monday 8:45 AM

1 hour 47 minutes


New York

New York to Albany via I-87N

Thursday 11:45 AM

2 hours 37 minutes



Philadelphia to Baltimore/DC via I-95

Friday 7:30 AM

2 hours 1 minute



Hood River to Portland via

I-84 W

Monday 6:30 PM

1 hour 20 minutes


San Diego

San Diego to Palm Springs via

I-15 N

Friday 6:15 PM

3 hours 4 minutes


San Francisco

San Francisco to Napa via I-80 E

Friday 11:00 AM

1 hour 25 minutes



Ellensburg to Seattle via I-90 E

Sunday 4:30 PM

2 hours 34 minutes



Gainesville to Tampa via I-75 S

Sunday 9:00 AM

3 hours 47 minutes


Washington, DC

Washington, DC to Baltimore via Balt/Wash Pkwy N

Friday 2:15 PM

1 hour 21 minutes


 Top Destinations

This Memorial Day weekend, travelers are seeking theme parks and entertainment venues in Orlando, New York, Las Vegas, and Southern California. Seattle, Anchorage, and Vancouver rank high because of the popularity of Alaska cruises this time of year. Florida beaches and cruise ports will also be packed.

European cities dominate the international list. The top 10 domestic and international destinations below are based on AAA booking data.



Orlando, FL

Rome, Italy

Seattle, WA

Vancouver, B.C., Canada

New York, NY

London, England

Las Vegas, NV

Paris, France

Anaheim/Los Angeles, CA

Dublin, Ireland

Denver, CO

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Anchorage, AK

Athens, Greece

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Barcelona, Spain

Miami, FL

St. George, Bermuda

Boston, MA

Edinburgh, Scotland

Travel Trends  

As travelers make plans for summer and beyond, AAA Travel has identified the following trends:

  • Bucket Lists: Travelers taking once-in-a-lifetime trips and working through their wish-lists.
  • 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 or with other like-minded individuals.
  • 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.

Travel Agent Survey

A recent survey of AAA travel agents highlights topics travelers are frequently discussing when booking trips:

  • Travel Insurance: 51% of agents say more travelers are interested in protecting their trips.
  • Cruises: 77% of agents say travelers are interested in ocean cruises and 67% say river cruises.
  • All-Inclusive: 70% of agents say travelers are interested in all-inclusive vacations.

Holiday Forecast Methodology

Travel Forecast 

In cooperation with AAA, S&P Global Market Intelligence (SPGMI) developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from SPGMI’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 SPGMI 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.

*Memorial Day Holiday Travel Period

For this forecast, the Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27, 2024.

About S&P Global 
S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI) provides essential intelligence. We enable governments, businesses, and individuals with the right data, expertise, and connected technology so that they can make decisions with conviction. From helping our customers assess new investments to guiding them through ESG and energy transition across supply chains, we unlock new opportunities, solve challenges, and accelerate progress for the world. We are widely sought after by many of the world’s leading organizations to provide credit ratings, benchmarks, analytics, and workflow solutions in the global capital, commodity, and automotive markets. With every one of our offerings, we help the world’s leading organizations plan for tomorrow today. For more information, visit www.spglobal.com

About DKSA 

DK SHIFFLET boasts the industry’s most complete database on U.S. resident travel both in the U.S. and worldwide. Data is collected monthly from a U.S. representative sample, adding over 60,000 traveling households annually, and is used daily by leading travel organizations and their strategic planning groups. DK SHIFFLET is an MMGY Global company. 

About INRIX   

Founded in 2004, INRIX pioneered intelligent mobility solutions by transforming big data from connected devices and vehicles into mobility insights. This revolutionary approach enabled INRIX to become one of the leading providers of data and analytics into how people move. By empowering cities, businesses, and people with valuable insights, INRIX is helping to make the world smarter, safer, and greener. With partners and solutions spanning across the entire mobility ecosystem, INRIX is uniquely positioned at the intersection of technology and transportation – whether it’s keeping road users safe, improving traffic signal timing to reduce delay and greenhouse gasses, optimizing last mile delivery, or helping uncover market insights. Learn more at INRIX.com. 

AAA Travel Agent Survey Methodology

AAA clubs distributed surveys to a random sample of their travel agents between March 18 and March 29, 2024 to understand recent traveler trends over the past 60 days. 186 AAA agent responses were collected from 13 AAA clubs (representing 97% of AAA membership overall as of February 2024).

About AAA - The Auto Club Group

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 13 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 64 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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