SPRINGFIELD — With more than 38 million Americans expected to travel over Memorial Day weekend, this year’s unofficial kickoff to summer is expected to be the second busiest on record, AAA said Thursday in a news release.
The auto club expects 700,000 more people to hit the road for Memorial Day 2016 than for Memorial Day 2015.
In Massachusetts alone, 786,173 Bay State residents plan on hitting the roads this Memorial Day weekend — a 2.3 percent increase from last year locally.
Nationwide, this will be the most Americans on the road since 2005, before the Great Recession led many to cut back on travel.
Low gas prices also mean more travel, AAA said.
A gallon of regular averages $2.23 in Greater Springfield, according to AAA. That is up from $2.11 recorded a month ago, but lower than the $2.65 a gallon stations were charging a year ago this week.
AAA estimates that Americans have saved $18 billion on gas so far this year compared to the same period in 2015, and prices are at the lowest levels in 11 years.
Sandra Marsian, AAA Pioneer Valley vice president said:
Nearly 34 million people across the nation will drive to their Memorial Day destinations, representing 89 percent of holiday travelers. This is an increase of 2.1 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase 1.6 percent over last year, with 2.6 million Americans taking to the skies this Memorial Day. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will fall 2.3 percent, to 1.6 million travelers.
AAA is also reporting lower, or stable, costs for airfare, rental cars and hotels.
- Average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be 26 percent cheaper this Memorial Day, with an average round-trip ticket costing $165.
- Hotel costs are in line with last Memorial Day. AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels will average $183, while a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel will average $151 nightly.
- Daily car rental rates will average $62, that is 3 percent less than last year.
Not everyone will have a perfect trip, however. AAA expects to rescue more than 350,000 motorists during the Memorial Day holiday travel period, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires.
AAA recommends motorists check the condition of their battery and tires before heading out on a road trip. Also, have vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, the auto club said.