With the official start to summer fast approaching, AAA wants travelers to know if they’re planning a Memorial Day getaway, they should start preparing now. AAA Travel booking data shows that reservations for flights, rental cars, cruises and hotels for Memorial Day are up 122% over last year.
"Americans are enthusiastically making their summer travel plans despite record high gas prices this spring,” according to Bevi Powell, senior vice president, AAA East Central. “Travelers are looking for ways to save and are finding that travel advisors are their best resource to help them stretch their travel funds.”
Airfares – Best (and Worst) Time to Book for Memorial Day
Recent AAA booking data shows the best time to purchase airfare is about two weeks before Memorial Day with travelers paying an average of $445 per ticket. Those who like a longer planning window will pay slightly more since flights reserved 28 – 60 days ahead of the holiday are coming in at an average of $470 each. Sunday offers the lowest airfare followed by Friday (an average price of $543 and $596, respectively).
AAA advises travelers who are looking for a last-minute deal, by waiting to book the week of Memorial Day, will end up paying almost double – an average of $845 per flight. While Saturday of Memorial Day weekend has typically been the cheapest day to fly, this year it is the most expensive. As expected, Friday is the most popular air travel day and Memorial Day is the lightest.
When looking at the average costs of airfare for each day over Memorial Day weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday) for 2022 compared to 2021, flights are skewing about $160 more this year.
Think Like an Early Bird
Travelers who want to get away for Memorial Day should start planning now. To maximize time, savings and alleviate stress, AAA recommends working with a trusted travel advisor. These industry experts have many resources at their disposal to help plan and organize a trip that fits a traveler’s specific needs and budget. They can easily look at a variety of options and scenarios to find deals and savings not always available to the public. AAA also offers travelers the following advice:
- Flexibility is key when it comes to where and when to travel. Fly on off-peak times/days, pick a hidden gem closer to home or opt to stay at an all-inclusive resort with plenty of on-site activities. This limits the need for a rental car and paying a la carte for entertainment and dining.
- Book early for flights, hotels, tours, cruises, and car rentals. Book as early as possible to lock in the best rate and make sure to ask about discounts for pre-paying. This is something else a travel advisor can help navigate.
- Travel with friends and family. Small group travel rose in popularity during the pandemic when many opted to vacation with people in their close circle. Consider taking a group trip to divvy up costs for things like activities and accommodations. If everyone is spread out, a travel advisor can help manage the logistics.
- Protect your investment. The first step to trip planning is to purchase travel insurance. This provides a safety net should something unexpected happen ahead of or during a trip which is another example of how using a travel advisor is beneficial. They can discuss travelers’ specific needs and can easily determine which travel insurance policy makes the most sense.
Top Destinations include Big Cities and Beaches
Travelers are targeting big cities and beaches for their Memorial Day getaways this year. These are the top five domestic destinations according to AAA bookings for flights, tours, car rentals and hotels:
- Orlando, FL
- Seattle, WA
- Miami, FL
- Las Vegas, NV
- Anchorage, AK
Travelers heading abroad are choosing classic destinations like:
- Vancouver, BC, Canada
- Paris, France
- Dublin, Ireland
- London, England
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
Gas Prices Aren’t Deterring Many Travelers
Consumers have felt the pinch at the pump as gas prices have been on the rise since early 2021 and, substantially, in the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine war. This isn’t slowing down consumer desire to travel, whether by road, train, or airplane. In fact, a recent AAA survey found that more than half of respondents said they had plans to travel this summer, and of those, 42% said they would not consider changing their plans regardless of the price of gas. Consumers can use the Auto Club App to find the cheapest gas prices near them, or AAA’s Gas Price Website to follow the latest trends and calculate what they’ll spend on their next trip.
Diamonds Shine Brighter and Cleaner
For more than 80 years, AAA’s Diamond program has helped travelers pick the best in accommodations and dining when planning their vacation. These establishments must meet AAA’s high standards of cleanliness, comfort and hospitality to earn this honor. At the heart of the Diamond program are AAA Inspectors who are experienced, industry experts working with the best interest of the traveler in mind. New hotels and restaurants are inspected annually and those that make the grade are added as new Diamond honorees. For 2022, AAA added 103 new four and five diamond hotels and restaurants, some of which are located in top Memorial Day destinations like Orlando, Miami, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Boston, Anaheim, New York and San Francisco. For the full list of these newly added Diamond honorees, click here.
The pandemic had a profound effect on travelers’ expectations for cleanliness and AAA evolved its Diamond program to respond to this need. In 2021, AAA expanded its housekeeping evaluation to include objective, scientific validation of the cleanliness of common surfaces throughout hotels. Every hotel that is inspected and part of the Diamond program must meet this standard and are recognized as Inspected Clean. To find an Inspected Clean, Diamond-rated property, click here.
AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 72 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members. News releases are available at news.eastcentral.aaa.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.