ORLANDO—Travel projects 34.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, the highest volume for the holiday since 2008 and a 1.3% increase over 2013.
Nearly 86% of travelers (29.7 million) will celebrate the holiday with a final road trip before summer comes to a close and children head back to school. The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, August 28 to Monday, September 1.
Highlights from 2014 Labor Day Travel Forecast include:
- Historically, when Labor Day weekend begins in August, Americans have shown a higher tendency to travel.
- Consumer spending has surpassed income growth, indicating that Americans are willing to take on debt to finance a vacation.
- Automobile travel will increase by 1.4% this year, with 29.7 million travelers hitting the road.
- Nearly 8% of travelers (2.65 million) will travel by air, a 1% increase from last year.
- Travelers will encounter airfares just 2% higher than last year and daily car rental costs that remain consistent at $51.
- Hotel rates at AAA Two Diamond hotels are 9% higher than last year and Three Diamond hotels are 6% more.
“As the economy makes modest gains, more Americans are joining the labor force this year,” said AAA COO Marshall L. Doney. “With Labor Day symbolizing the American workers’ contributions to the strength and prosperity of our country, it’s only fitting that millions are choosing to celebrate this positive direction with an all-American road trip.”
Consumer spending is continuing to rise in spite of stagnant income growth. In the third quarter of this year spending is expected to increase 3.8% year-over-year, while disposable personal income is only expected to increase 1.4%. Reliance on credit cards, rather than increasing income, is fueling holiday travel spending this year. While economic growth is slow, consumers are feeling more comfortable taking on debt.
“This year, Americans are more optimistic about their financial situation,” continued Doney. “Consumer spending continues to outpace disposable income, indicating that Americans are comfortable using their credit cards to take one last summer vacation this year.”
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase 6% from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $171 per night compared to $161 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen 9% with an average cost of $125 per night.