Memorial Day Travel Holds Steady

More Than 4 Million Californians to Travel Despite Higher Gas Prices, Says AAA

Media Contact: Cynthia Harris

Walnut Creek CA, May 23, 2011

Despite the recent surge in gasoline prices and higher transportation costs, millions of Californians are determined to hit the skies and roadways for the much anticipated official beginning of summer travel, according to a new travel survey from AAA Northern California.

 AAA’s travel survey projects that 4.2 million Californians plan on traveling 50 miles or more this Memorial Day holiday weekend. This represents a slight increase of 0.2 percent from last year. 

“While concerns over higher gas prices are causing some travelers to opt out of a summer road trip, many are modifying or scaling back in other types of vacation expenditures,” said AAA Northern California spokesperson Cynthia Harris. “Many people expect to stay with family and friends in order to afford a few days away from home.”                                        

AAA projects over 3.5 California Memorial Day travelers will drive this upcoming holiday weekend. This represents a slight decline of 0.4 percent from last year. More than 460,000 Californians intend to travel by air, an increase of 11.4 percent compared to figures from 2010. Approximately 188,000 state residents are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, such as rail, buses and watercraft. This represents a decrease of 12.2 percent compared with 2010.

 Nationally, AAA projects nearly 35 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the Memorial Day weekend, representing a 0.2 percent increase compared to last year.

 The AAA Leisure Travel Index shows that air fares over Memorial Day weekend 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 at AAA Three Diamond lodgings are averaging $148 per night and weekend car rentals rates will average $38, just $1 higher than last year. The expenditures of a West Coast family of four will average just over $970 over the weekend and the average road trip will cover about 1,000 miles.


According to those polled in AAA’s survey, the top three favorite activities for Memorial Day weekend are dining out, spending time at the beach and shopping. Other popular activities include visiting historical sites and national and state parks.

As part of AAA’s ongoing commitment to provide safety and protection to motorists, the AAA Tipsy Tow Program offers a free tow home for drinking drivers in Northern California, Nevada and Utah from 6 p.m. on May 30 until 6 a.m. on May 31. Members and non-members can call (800) 222-4357 (AAA-HELP) for a free tow of up to 10 miles. Service is restricted to a one-way ride for the driver and his or her vehicle to the driver’s home.

“Just tell the AAA operator, ‘I need a Tipsy Tow,’ and a truck will be on its way,” said Harris.

 Along with the TripTik Mobile app, AAA offers the iPhone and Android versions of AAA Discounts and AAA Roadside. Using GPS technology, AAA Discounts displays nearby locations that offer AAA members a Show Your Card & Save discount and AAA Roadside transmits a user’s location and details about a vehicle breakdown when a member requests AAA Roadside Assistance.

AAA’s projections are based on research conducted by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm teamed with AAA as part of an agreement to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.

AAA Travel is the nation’s largest travel organization. AAA Travel offers trips, cruises, tours and vacation packages throughout the world. Call (888) 937-5523 for more information or visit us at your local AAA Travel office or online at

AAA Northern California offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, financial services and consumer discounts to nearly 4 million members. AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 100 years ago. 

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