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4.2 percent more Americans plan to travel during final summer holiday

AAA projects 34.1 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the upcoming Labor Day holiday, a 4.2 percent increase from the 32.7 million people who traveled last year.

The anticipated increase in holiday travel is predominantly due to increased consumer confidence and spending. The total number of 2013 Labor Day holiday travelers is expected to reach a new post-recession high. The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, Aug. 29 to Monday, Sept. 2.

Highlights from 2013 AAA Labor Day Holiday Travel Forecast include:

*Labor Day holiday travelers to total 34.1 million, an increase of 4.2 percent from the 32.7 million who traveled last year

*Eighty-five percent of travelers (29.2 million) to travel by automobile, an increase of 4.3 percent from 28 million last year

*Holiday air travel expected to increase nearly three percent to 2.61 million.

*The largest share of travelers (46 percent) will depart on Friday, August 30

*Monday, Sept.. 2, is the most popular date of return for holiday trips with 43 percent planning to return that day

*The average traveler is expected to travel a round-trip distance of 594 miles and spend $804

Approximately 29.2 million people (85 percent) plan to drive to their destination, an increase of 4.3 percent from the 28 million 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 down 2.7 percent per gallon compared to the same time last year. The average price for gas on Labor Day 2012 was $3.83 per gallon, the most expensive average ever on record for the holiday. The current national average price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.53, 19 cents lower than this day last year.

Locally, gas prices are down considerably compared to this time last year. In Washington, the average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $3.81 per gallon, down 17 cents compared to last year and down 13 cents in the past month.

The largest share of travelers (46 percent) on a single day will depart on Friday, Aug. 30, and the largest share (43 percent) will return on Monday, Sept. 2.

More than 2.61 million leisure travelers (eight percent) will arrive at their destination by air, a slight increase (2.8 percent) from last year’s 2.54 million air travelers. The remaining seven percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.

According to the survey, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Labor Day holiday weekend is expected to be 594 miles, which is 32 miles less than last year’s average of 626 miles.

Median spending during the Labor Day holiday weekend is expected to grow to $804, compared to $749 last year. Travelers expect to spend 24 percent of their budget on transportation and lodging and 21 percent on food and beverages.


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