Travel over Labor Day shows first increase of summer, says AAA Colorado

Denver, August 20, 2013 – AAA Colorado projects 573,000 Coloradans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the upcoming Labor Day holiday, a 3.6 percent increase from the 553,000 people who were projected to travel last year. The Labor Day holiday projections are the only year-over-year increase in travel this summer. Travelers over the Memorial Day holiday decreased 0.6 percent from 2012 levels and the Independence Day holiday saw a 0.5 percent decrease from the prior year.

The anticipated increase in holiday travel is predominantly due to increased consumer spending and the improving housing market. The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, August 29 to Monday, September 2.

Automobile travel remains dominant mode of transportation

Approximately 481,000 (84 percent of travelers) plan to drive to their destination, an increase of 5.7 percent from the 455,000 who drove last year.

Gas prices are unlikely to be a major factor for people in determining whether they will travel this Labor Day. As of mid-August, prices were on average less than one percent higher per gallon compared to the same time last year. The current Colorado average price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.54, two cents higher than mid-August 2012.

AAA forecasts gas prices nationwide to remain less expensive than last year based on current trends through the middle of August, but there remains the potential for late-summer hurricanes and refinery problems that could send prices higher.

August 30 busiest travel day as travelers take full advantage of extended weekend

The largest share of travelers (46 percent) on a single day will depart on Friday, August 30 and the largest share will return on Monday (43 percent). Eighty-five percent intend to return from their Labor Day trip on Monday, Tuesday, or later.

Air travel to remain the same

More than 46,000 leisure travelers (eight percent) will arrive at their destination by air, equal to last year’s number of air travelers. The remaining eight percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.

Average travel distance and spending increase

According to the survey of intending travelers, the average distance traveled by Coloradans during the Labor Day holiday weekend is expected to be 1,060 miles round-trip, which is 155 miles more than last year’s average of 905 miles.

Median spending during the Labor Day holiday weekend is expected to grow to $670, compared to $596 last year. Travelers expect to spend 56 percent of their budget on transportation and lodging and 16 percent on food and beverages.

During the holiday weekend the most popular activities will be visiting with friends/family (52 percent), hiking or biking (40 percent) and touring and sight-seeing (33 percent).

Car rental rates and airfares rise, hotel rates see slight increase for mid-range hotels

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, weekend daily car rental rates will average $51, 32 percent more than last year’s average of $39. Airfares increased four percent year-over-year, with an average lowest round-trip rate of $214 for the top 40 U.S. air routes compared to $205 last year. Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase four percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average $161 per night compared to $154 last year.

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 the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.

AAA Colorado has more than 560,000 members and is an advocate for safety and security for all travelers. As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive related services, as well as member exclusive savings.