38 Million Expected on Roads for Memorial Day Weekend

By Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca
May 25, 2016 Updated: May 26, 2016

Memorial Day weekend 2016 is set to be a record breaker—with 38 million Americans projected to be on the road. 

“The great American road trip is back,” said Marshall L. Doney, president and CEO of the American Automobile Association (AAA).

But, he advised, “Pack plenty of patience.”

If the AAA’s Travel Forecast is correct, 2016 will be the second highest Memorial Day travel volume on record. And the highest in 11 years, since 2005. 

The current national gasoline prices are sitting at an average of $2.26 per gallon—50 cents less per gallon than a year ago—which also makes them the lowest in 11 years for the weekend. 

AAA estimates Americans will save, collectively, $150 billion dollars on gas in 2016. Which is circa $700 per driver. 

While 2016 will most likely break records, 2015’s numbers were nothing to sneeze at. American’s drove a record 3.1 trillion miles last year; the equivalent of 1 billion cross-country road trips.

For 2016, the majority of Memorial Day travelers will be driving. The nearly 38 million drivers will see 700,000 more individuals on the road than in 2015. 

These all time high driving levels are expected to continue through the summer season. 

FILE - In this May 16, 2016 file photo, a long line of travelers waiting for the TSA security check point at O'Hare International airport in Chicago. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has ousted its head of security operations and put new leadership in charge of screening operations at a major international airport, but long checkpoint lines and travel headaches already pervading the busy summer travel season are likely to continue. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford, File)
(AP Photo/Teresa Crawford, File)

AAA also predicts a slight increase in air travelers from 2015. About 2.6 million individuals are projected to taken advantages of lower airfare prices.

A round trip flight during 2016’s unofficial start of summer costs around $165, which is 26 percent less than in 2015. 

The AAA recommends that fliers arrive to airport two hours before their scheduled departure time. Chicago’s airports recommends 3 hours

Other forms of travel—such as bus, train, or boat—are estimated to be used by 1.6 million travelers. 

Doney enumerates a few reasons for the estimated record breaking Memorial Day travels. 

“A strong labor market and rising personal income motivating more people to travel,” explained Doney. 

The major motivating factor, however, seems to be low gasoline prices.

Doney notes that a recent AAA survey indicates that 55 percent of Americans are more likely to take a road trip due to lower gas prices.