AAA: 1.3 Million Georgians will Take to the Roads & Sky for the Unofficial Start of Summer

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Thursday, May 16th, 2024

 AAA forecasts there will be a significant number of Georgians planning to travel for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. According to AAA, 1.3 million Georgians will journey 50 miles or more, which is 52,824 more holiday travelers than the previous year.

Total Number of Georgia Travelers







1.3 million

1.2 million




1.2 million

1.1 million








Nationally, AAA projects the second highest-traveled Memorial Day on record. Nearly 43.8 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more during the holiday travel period*. That’s 1.7 million more travelers than last year (4% increase), yet slightly behind 2005’s record of 44 million.

National Travel Numbers







43.8 million

38.4 million

3.5 million

1.9 million


42 million

36.9 million

3.4 million

1.8 million







“Memorial Day will be the start to a very busy summer of travel,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “American travelers are forecast to surpass pre-pandemic levels, making this the busiest Memorial Day holiday weekend in nearly two decades. The main driver of the projection is strong consumer interest in traveling both domestically and abroad.  Interest in traveling internationally is at the highest level in recent years.

Road trips are expected to set a record in Georgia and nationwide, withnearly 1.5 million more Americans on the road than last year. AAA projects nearly 38.4 million will travel by car over Memorial Day weekend, the highest number for that holiday since AAA began tracking in 2001. The national number of drivers this year is up 4% compared to last year and 1.9% higher than in 2019.

“Traveling by car is appealing for many Georgians because of the convenience and flexibility it provides,” said Montrae Waiters, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “However, Memorial Day drivers may have to pay more at the gas pump this year.”

During last year’s holiday weekend, Georgia's gas price average was $3.25 per gallon.Today, the state average is $3.40.  Visit Georgia gas price average to view daily state and metro average prices. Drivers can use the free AAA mobile app to find the lowest gas prices in their area and get discounted pricing at the pump by participating in the Fuel Rewards Program.

“Drivers should expect continued volatility at the pump as the summer driving season gets underway,” Waiters continued. The wildcard remains the cost of oil, and unlike last year, there are now two wars – in the Middle East and Ukraine – that could roil the oil market.”

Airports are bracing for a spike in travelers. AAA expects 3.51 million Americans to travel by air this holiday weekend, an increase of 4.8% over last year and a 9% jump compared to 2019. This will be the most crowded Memorial Day weekend at airports since 2005 when 3.64 million flew for the holiday as the travel industry finally rebounded post-9/11. This Memorial Day weekend, air ticket prices are comparable to last year.

According to AAA booking data, the average price for a round-trip domestic flight will cost $778. That’s 2% more than last year’s holiday weekend. International flights are 4% more expensive – averaging $1485 for a roundtrip ticket. Several factors play into how much travelers pay for airfare, including destination, number of stops, and fare class. For example, passengers who book nonstop flights with seat selection and carry-on bags included will likely pay more than those who select basic economy with a layover.

In reviewing all hotel bookings with AAA, domestic hotels are 5% cheaper this Memorial Day weekend compared to last. The total average cost per stay (which can be multiple nights) is $500. International hotels are about the same as last year. The average cost per stay is $660.

Nearly 2 million people are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, including buses, cruises, and trains. AAA projects 1.9 million people will take these other modes of transportation, an increase of 5.6% compared to last year. “This category took the biggest hit during the pandemic,” Haas said. “Now – five years later – we’re back to 2019 numbers. Leading the charge is the resurgence in both ocean and river cruising, which came back extremely strong and continues to gain popularity. With ships of all sizes being introduced each year, there is constantly something new and exciting to explore for first-time and repeat cruise enthusiasts.”

Domestic car rentals are 17% cheaper this Memorial Day weekend compared to last. The average total cost for a rental (which is typically for a few days) is $439. International car rentals are 16% cheaper this Memorial Day weekend compared to last. The average total cost for a rental (which is typically for a few days) is $617.

  • Cities with the highest rental demand this Memorial Day weekend are Orlando, Denver, Atlanta, Boston, and Las Vegas.

  • The busiest pick-up dates are Thursday, May 23, and Friday, May 24, with rental reservations averaging five days in length.

  • The most popular vehicle classes reserved for Memorial Day weekend are mid-size and full-size sedans, small and mid-size SUVs.

Best/Worst Times to Drive and Peak Congestion by Metro

INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, says drivers leaving Thursday or Friday should hit the road early to avoid mixing with commuters. Travelers going back home on Sunday or Monday should avoid the afternoon hours when return trips will peak.

“Travel times are expected to be up to 90% longer than normal. Travelers should stay up to date on traffic apps, 511 services, and local news stations to avoid sitting in traffic longer than necessary,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX.

Please note that the times listed below are for the time zone in which the metro is located.

For example, Atlanta routes = ET.

Best and Worst Times to Travel by Car


Worst Travel Time

Best Travel Time

Thursday, May 23

12:00 - 6: 00 PM

Before 11 AM, After 7PM

Friday, May 24

12:00 - 7:00 PM

Before 11AM, After 8 PM

Saturday, May 25

2:00 - 5:00 PM

Before 1 PM, After 6 PM

Sunday, May 26

3:00 - 7:00 PM

Before 1 PM

Monday, May 27

3:00 - 7:00 PM

After 7 PM

Source: INRIX

Peak Congestion by Metro



Peak Congestion Period

Est. Travel Time

Increase Compared to Typical


Atlanta to Savannah via I-16 E

Saturday 4:45 PM

5 hours 31 minutes


Source: INRIX

Top Destinations

This Memorial Day weekend, travelers are seeking theme parks and entertainment venues in Orlando, New York, Las Vegas, and Southern California. Seattle, Anchorage, and Vancouver rank high because of the popularity of Alaska cruises this time of year. Florida beaches and cruise ports will also be packed.

European cities dominate the international list. The top 10 domestic and international destinations below are based on AAA booking data.




Orlando, FL

Rome, Italy

Seattle, WA

Vancouver, B.C., Canada

New York, NY

London, England

Las Vegas, NV

Paris, France

Anaheim/Los Angeles, CA

Dublin, Ireland

Denver, CO

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Anchorage, AK

Athens, Greece

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Barcelona, Spain

Miami, FL

St. George, Bermuda

Boston, MA

Edinburgh, Scotland


Travel Trends 

As travelers make plans for summer and beyond, AAA Travel has identified the following trends:

  • Bucket Lists: Travelers taking once-in-a-lifetime trips and working through their wish lists.

  • Milestones: Families booking anniversary, retirement, and family reunion trips.

  • Asia: More travelers are interested in visiting Asia, especially Japan.

  • Solo Trips: More people, especially women, are interested in traveling by themselves or with other like-minded individuals.

  • Luxury Vacations: More travelers seeking high-end cruises and tours.

  • Trains: Many travelers interested in rail vacations across New England, Canada, and Europe.

  • Adventure in Nature: Travelers booking trips to Antarctica, Africa, and the South Pacific.

Travel Agent Survey

A recent survey of AAA travel agents highlights topics travelers are frequently discussing when booking trips:

  • Travel Insurance: 51% of agents say more travelers are interested in protecting their trips.

  • Cruises: 77% of agents say travelers are interested in ocean cruises and 67% say river cruises.

  • All-Inclusive: 70% of agents say travelers are interested in all-inclusive vacations.

Holiday Forecast Methodology  

Travel Forecast

In cooperation with AAA, S&P Global Market Intelligence (SPGMI) developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from SPGMI’s proprietary databases. These data include macroeconomic drivers such as employment, output, household net worth, asset prices, including stock indices, interest rates, housing market indicators, and variables related to travel and tourism, including gasoline prices, airline travel, and hotel stays. AAA and SPGMI have quantified holiday travel volumes going back to 2000. 

Historical travel volume estimates come from DK SHIFFLET’s TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/MonitorSM. The PERFORMANCE/MonitorSM is a comprehensive study measuring the travel behavior of U.S. residents. DK SHIFFLET contacts over 50,000 U.S. households each month to obtain detailed travel data, resulting in the unique ability to estimate visitor volume and spending, identify trends, and forecast U.S. travel behavior, all after the trips have been taken.

The travel forecast is reported in person-trips. In particular, AAA and SPGMI forecast the total U.S. holiday travel volume and expected mode of transportation. The travel forecast presented in this report was prepared the week of April 15, 2024.

*Memorial Day Holiday Travel Period 

For this forecast, the Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27, 2024.