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Memorial Day Travel to Hit Post-Recession High

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- If you're looking to shake the winter blues, with a trip, you're not alone.

AAA Travel projects more than 36 million Americans will take a trip of 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.  If so, that's the second highest travel volume since 2000.

Expect even more gridlock on the roads, as 31.8 million travelers, or 88% will drive to their destinations.  The good news: AAA expects most drivers will pay slightly lower gas prices this weekend due to rising supplies.  It is unlikely gas prices will have a significant effect on travel plans compared to a year ago, AAA says.

Flying Costs Rising

Worse news for flyers. Airfares are 6% higher on average. Hotel stays will also cost about 2% more, and car rentals expenses are up 1% compared to 2013. Still, that's not deterring flyers.  Air travel is expected to increase 2.4% to 2.6 million leisure travelers.

For those not flying or driving, 1.7 million travelers will board trains, buses and cruise ships. These modes of transportation will see the largest increase up 6.5%.

Slight Economic Improvement

Marshall L. Doney, AAA's Chief Operating Officer says in a statement, "As the economy continues to improve at a slow and steady pace, consumer spending, disposable income, consumer confidence and the employment outlook are trending up which is welcomed news for the travel industry."

AAA's projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight.

Fun in the Sun

As we close the books on one of the harshest winters on record, a TripAdvisor survey of 2,500 U.S. respondents shows 9% of 2,500 U.S respondents cite the Polar Vortex as motivation to take a Memorial Day trip. Another 9% cited it as inspiration to budget and plan for a trip later on during the summer. 

Plus, no surprise here, the most popular destination this summer: the beach.

The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 22 to Monday, May 26.

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This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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