FLORHAM PARK, NJ — As the unofficial start of summer approaches, many New Jerseyans are ready to shake off the memory of another rough winter and kick off summer with a Memorial Day getaway. AAA predicts that more than 950,000 New Jersey residents will hit the road, skies, rails or water this weekend, a 4.6 percent increase from the 917,000 that traveled in 2014, and the second-highest travel volume this decade.
Nationally, AAA predicts that 37.2 million will travel this year, a 4.7 percent increase from last year and the highest travel volume in 10 years.
Memorial Day kicks off the summer driving season, so the vast majority of travelers will drive to their destination. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 21 – Monday, May 25.
TRAVEL BY THE NUMBERS
• New Jersey – 864,910 (90.2% of travelers), a 5.1% increase from last year
• Nationally – 32.972 million (88.6% of travelers), a 5.3% increase from 2014
• New Jersey – 62,455 (6.5% of travelers), an increase of 2.2% from those who flew in 2014.
• Nationally – 2.6 million (7% of travelers), an increase of 2.4% from last Memorial Day.
Train, Bus, Watercraft or Other Mode
• New Jersey – 31,741 (3.3% of travelers), a 3.8% decrease from 2014
• Nationally – 1.644 million (4.4% of travelers), a decrease of 3.6% from Memorial Day 2014
“After another cold winter, New Jerseyans are excited to finally trade in boots and jackets for flips flops and shorts,” said Cathleen Lewis, Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations for AAA New Jersey. “With the second-highest Memorial Day weekend travel expected this decade, it’s clear that New Jerseyans are ready to come out of hibernation and explore our national parks, beaches and great cities.”
A number of economic factors are contributing to the large increase in holiday travelers this year. “A strong employment market and low gas prices have driven consumer optimism to new highs and boosted Americans’ disposable income. This is welcome news for the travel industry,” continued Lewis.
IMPACT OF GASOLINE ON TRAVEL PLANS
Travelers continue to benefit from substantially lower gas prices compared to recent years. Today’s national average price is $2.70, $0.94 lower than last year ($3.64). In New Jersey, the average price for a gallon of gas is $2.52, $0.97 lower than last year ($3.49). AAA predicts most U.S. travelers will pay the cheapest Memorial Day gas prices in at least five years.
Memorial Day gas prices, average per gallon, in New Jersey for the past five years
2015: $2.52 (as of May 19, 2015)
TIPS FOR DRIVERS
More than 88 percent of holiday travelers (about 33 million) will drive to their destination, a 5.3 percent increase from 2014. AAA expects to rescue nearly 350,000 motorists at the roadside this holiday weekend, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected pre-trip — checking the battery and tire condition — before hitting the road. Members can download the AAA Mobile app at AAA.com/Mobile, visit AAA.com or call (800) AAA-HELP (4357) to request roadside assistance in the event of a breakdown. Members can also visit AAA.com/Repair to search for a AAA Approved repair facility close to home, nearby or on the way to their destination.
TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES
AAA’s digital tools for on-the-go travel planning include the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app allows travelers to map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. On AAA.com, travelers can find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using the TripTik® Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. Visit theAAA Newsroom to view the complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2015 Memorial Day Travel Forecast.
The AAA New Jersey Automobile Club, headquartered in Florham Park, provides automotive, travel, insurance, financial and educational services to its nearly 400,000 members in Essex, Morris and Union Counties.