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Memorial Day travel expected to skyrocket over 2020, still lower than 2019

The vast majority of Memorial Day weekend travelers are expected to take to the roads. File Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI
The vast majority of Memorial Day weekend travelers are expected to take to the roads. File Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

May 28 (UPI) -- Travel experts expect a 577% increase in air travel for Memorial Day weekend compared to last year, but the vast majority of Americans traveling for the holiday will be doing so by road.

AAA forecasts that 37.1 million Americans will travel this weekend, 34.4 million by car, 2.5 million by air and 237,000 by either bus, train or cruise. That's an overall increase of more than 60% compared to 2020, when many stayed home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Despite the jump in the number of travelers this year, the forecast reflects a 13.3% decline compared to 2019, indicating millions of Americans are still staying home this year.

"As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and consumer confidence grows, Americans are demonstrating a strong desire to travel this Memorial Day," said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. "This pent-up demand will result in a significant increase in Memorial Day travel, which is a strong indicator for summer, though we must all remember to continue taking important safety precautions."

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AAA booking data indicates Las Vegas, Orlando, Fla., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Denver and Nashville are the top road trip destinations this Memorial day.

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With more people on the roads, AAA said travelers can expect to see the highest gas prices since 2014, with the national average shooting above $3 per gallon.

A national rental car shortage amid higher demand could also drive up prices there.

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The Transportation Security Administration, meanwhile, issued a notice reminding travelers not to pack firearms in their carry-on luggage. The agency said firearms can be packed only in checked baggage.

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