AAA: Summer travel expected to be busiest in years

The summer travel season for this year will be the busiest in years.

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Bookings for hotels, car rentals, and activities for sightseeing tours or daily excursions are up almost 30% from 2022 for travel between Memorial Day and Labor Day, according to data compiled by AAA.

AAA says those numbers are expected to climb even further.

“Not only will the roads be crowded but also airports, trains, and cruise lines,” says AAA Public Affairs Manager, Kara Hitchens. “The good news, for those planning a Great American Road Trip, is that the cost of travel will be the same or less than last year, especially given significantly lower gas prices.”

Airline tickets to the most popular destinations are up about 40% compared to last year, AAA said.

TSA said there were 12% more flyers this year than in 2022 over Memorial Day weekend.

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Summer travel trends include:

  • An increase in the number of people flying – Despite the expense, 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 so last-minute deals will be 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.

AAA says it’s important to plan ahead, make sure your vehicle is road ready, protect your ID, track your luggage, and work with a trusted adviser to save time and money this summer.

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