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AAA: More than 36 million hitting the road this weekend

In its annual holiday travel survey, AAA reports more than 36 million Americans — a 1.5% increase over the last year — will kick off the summer and travel 50 miles or more from home during the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is May 22 to 26.

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Of the 36.1 million Americans traveling, approximately: 88% (31.8 million) will travel by automobile — a figure that translates to more than eight in 10 travelers — even though it’s a minuscule increase over last year’s 31.4 million vacationers; 7% or 2.6 million folks will fly, a 2.4% increase; 5% or 1.7 million will take some other mode of transportation including cruises, trains, or buses, a 6.5% increase — the largest of the three.

Travel for this holiday marks the second highest travel volume since 2000. The reasons are several: consumer spending, disposable income, consumer confidence and employment are all on the upswing — welcome news for the travel industry that has been pummeled over the last decade. Despite the positive economic news, travelers will encounter slightly higher prices: airfares are up 6%; mid-range hotels up 2% and car rentals up 1%.

On the other hand, most drivers are expected to pay lower gas prices by Memorial Day weekend because of rising supplies. An average national price of a gallon of gas is expected to hover around the $3.63 mark by Memorial Day. In Connecticut, however, the gas story isn’t as appealing where average prices may be on the downswing, but continue, at around $3.92, to be higher than the national average.

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