It’s officially summer and this travel season will be one of the busiest we’ve seen in years, based on travel data collected by AAA Mid-Atlantic. Bookings for hotels, car rentals and activities such as sightseeing tours and daily excursions are up almost 30% over 2022 for travel between Memorial Day and Labor Day – and those numbers are expected to climb further yet.
“Not only will the roads be crowded but airports, trains and cruise lines are expected to be busy throughout this summer,” said Morgan Dean, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Virginia.“The good news, for those planning a Great American Road Trip, is that the cost of travel will be about the same or less than last year, especially given significantly lower gas prices.”
Those flying to their summer destinations, however, will, on average, pay much more for airfare. Airline tickets to the most popular destinations are up approximately 40% compared to this time last year.
Travelers can look to Memorial Day weekend as a strong indicator of what is to come, barring any unforeseen economic, geo-political or weather-related disruptions.
Summer travel trends include:
- An increase in the number of people flying – Despite the higher costs, TSA data indicates an increase of more than 12% in the number of flyers over the 2023 Memorial Day holiday weekend compared to last year.
- Fewer disruptions to air travel – Many airlines have increased staffing and efficiencies since last summer, so travelers should experience fewer cancellations, delays and disruptions.
- An increase in the number of people cruising – The cruise business is booming. AAA cruise bookings indicate many summer cruises are selling out, making last-minute deals harder to come by.
- Greater rental car availability – Rental car companies, including AAA partner, Hertz, have been able to increase inventory that fell off dramatically during COVID. With a few exceptions, supply is expected to meet peak summer demand.
- A sharp increase in international travel – AAA’s international travel bookings were up 250% over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. AAA Retail locations are also experiencing a significant increase in demand for international travel services, including applications for International Driving Permits (IDPs) and foreign currency exchange.
- Continued delays in passport processing – The U.S. Department of State indicates that passport processing times are still much longer than last summer, at 10-13 weeks plus at least two additional weeks for mail time.AAA partner, RushMyPassport is experiencing an unprecedented number of applications for expedited passport and visa services.
Eight Tips for Saving Time and Money This Summer
- Plan ahead – Planning ahead provides the best opportunity to save time and money. The further out you plan, the more time you will have to shop for the best flights, best hotel rates, and best rental car rates, including the many discounts and rewards available with AAA Membership.
- Make sure your vehicle is road ready –Last summer, AAA Emergency Roadside crews responded to more than 120,000 members in Mid-Atlantic territory in Virginia.Anyone planning a Great American Road Trip this summer should plan to get a bumper-to- bumper health check in advance. Find a trusted mechanic at any AAA Approved Auto Repair or AAA Car Care Center. AAA Members can also take advantage of AAA Mobile Battery Service without leaving home.
- Work with a trusted Travel Advisor – A trusted advisor can help you explore options, book the best deals and advocate on your behalf should any issues arise, ensuring the best possible travel experience from beginning to end.
- Take advantage of discounts – Saving money does not have to mean sacrificing quality. For instance, AAA Membership includes discounts at these AAA Preferred Hotels, on Hertz rental cars and on Shell gas.
- Protect your investment – Consider travel insurance. A solid policy provides a safety net should something unexpected happen ahead of, or during your trip. Policies vary, so talk to your travel advisor about options. They know you, your trip, your budget and your specific needs and can easily walk you through what travel insurance policy makes the most sense.
- 1 Track your luggage – Pack peace of mind by including a tracking device in your luggage. That way, if your luggage does not arrive when you do, at least you will be able to see where it is and ensure its safe return. Trackers such as the Chipolo (pictured) are available at most AAA Retail locations or online at Shop.ClubAlliance.AAA.com.
- Exchange for foreign currency in advance – International travelers are reminded that AAA Retail locations offer most foreign currencies. Exchange in advance to ensure you have some money on hand as soon as you touch down.
- Protect your ID –In addition to protecting physical documents such as your passport, travelers should take extra steps to avoid identity theft, an inconvenience at any time, but especially when traveling.AAA Members get FREE ProtectMyID® Identify Theft Protection, and it is one of our most valued offerings.