DEARBORN, Mich., May 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 1.1 million Michiganians will travel on vacation during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, launching the start of the 2011 summer travel season, says AAA Michigan. State travel is projected to be up slightly from last year, while AAA projects 34.9 million travelers nationally, a slim increase of .02 percent. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 26 to Monday, May 30.
Of Michigan's travelers, 948,915 – 91 percent – will drive by vehicle, slightly more than last year. They will find gas prices about $4.00 per gallon (as of May 19) – significantly higher than last year's $2.81 per gallon. The AAA survey of intended travelers found that six out of ten said rising gas prices would not impact their plans. Of the remaining four out of ten travelers who said rising gas prices would impact plans, 70 percent said they would economize in other areas. The rest said they would take a shorter trip or travel by an alternate mode of transportation.
"Many travelers will compensate for higher fuel costs by cutting other areas of their travel budget," said AAA Michigan President Steve Wagner. "But despite higher prices, we expect more people will travel this holiday weekend than last year."
Travelers concerned about how fuel prices will impact their budget can use AAA's free, GPS-based TripTik Mobile application to compare prices at gas stations along the route. TripTik Mobile is available for iPhone and Android devices. Travelers can also find helpful information, including maps, directions, hotels, restaurants and area attractions.
The number of air travelers in Michigan is up – to 6 percent from last Memorial Day weekend's 5.5 percent. The remaining three percent of travelers will go by train or bus.
According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, Memorial Day holiday airfares are expected to be 14 percent higher than last year, with an average lowest round-trip rate of $201 for the top 40 U.S. air routes. Hotel rates for AAA Three-Diamond lodgings are expected to increase five percent, with travelers spending an average $148 nightly, compared to $142 last year.
According to survey results, the average distance traveled during the holiday is expected to be 792 miles, 27 percent more than last year's average 626 miles. Since air travel is expected to increase, it is the likely cause of the substantial gain in travel distance. Median spending is expected to be $692, down 14 percent from last year's $809.
For Michigan AAA members, the 10 most popular driving destinations in Michigan (based on TripTik reports) this year are:
Mackinaw City/Mackinac Island
Sault Ste. Marie
For Michigan AAA members, the 10 most popular driving destinations throughout the United States are:
Yellowstone National Park
During last Memorial Day weekend, Michigan State Police report 15 people died in 14 fatal crashes, up from 11 in 2009. Of those, seven killed were motorcyclists, one was a pedestrian, one a bicyclist and one riding an off-road vehicle. Of the five killed in vehicles with seat belts available, one was not using them. Alcohol was a factor in one of the fatal crashes.
AAA Michigan will again partner with the Michigan State Police (MSP) in supporting Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort.) Bright yellow banners will be posted at rest areas statewide, with many sites offering complimentary coffee and refreshments. In addition, Operation C.A.R.E. volunteers will provide traffic safety information during the three summer holiday weekends.
AAA's projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the holidays. The complete AAA/HIS Global Insight 2011 Memorial Day holiday forecast can be found at aaa.com/news.
SOURCE AAA Michigan