Despite inflation and ongoing fears of a looming recession, Americans are projected to travel beyond pre-pandemic levels on Memorial Day weekend, which may signal an upward trend for the rest of the summer.
According to a report by automotive and travel organization, AAA, 42.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this Memorial Day weekend — about 2.7 million (or 7%) more miles than last year.
The federal holiday unofficially marks the start of the summer season, and travel stats from the long weekend typically signal what’s ahead in the coming months, AAA reps said.
“This is expected to be the third busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000 when AAA started tracking holiday travel,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, in the report. “More Americans are planning trips and booking them earlier, despite inflation.”
AAA’s booking data also shows that airfare to top destinations for Memorial Day rose 40% this year, but 3.4 million Americans will still fly to their destinations — an 11% increase from 2022, and beyond pre-pandemic levels with an increase of 5.4% compared to 2019.
“This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports,” Twidale added.
Still, with gas prices lower now than last year, many travelers will also be hitting the road. About 37.1 million Americans will drive to their destinations, according to the AAA report, an increase of over 2 million compared to 2022. Additionally, transport on trains and buses for the upcoming holiday weekend is expected to increase by 20.6% from 2022.
The AAA travel forecast comes nearly a week after Airbnb reported record-high bookings in the first quarter of 2023, with cross-border bookings increasing by 36%. According to a survey in February by the U.S. Travel Association, 23% of Americans plan to travel for leisure in 2023, with about 52% intending to go somewhere in the next six months.
This story originally appeared on Entrepreneur