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Nearly 35 Million Traveling this Labor Day Says AAA, Highest Since Recession Driven Decline

AAA Travel projects 34.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, the highest volume for the holiday since 2008 and a 1.3 percent increase over 2013.

Nearly 86 percent of travelers (29.7 million) will celebrate the holiday with a final road trip before summer comes to a close and children head back to school. The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, Aug. 28 to Monday, Sept. 1.

Highlights from 2014 AAA Labor Day Travel Forecast:

• Automobile travel will increase by 1.4 percent this year, with 29.7 million travelers planning to hit the road.

• Nearly 8 percent of travelers (2.65 million) will travel by air, a one percent increase from last year.

• Travelers will encounter airfares just two percent higher than last year.

• Daily car rental costs remain consistent at $51, the same as last year.

• Hotel rates at AAA Two Diamond hotels are nine percent higher than last year and Three Diamond hotels are six percent more.

“Historically, when Labor Day weekend begins in August, Americans have shown a higher tendency to travel,” said Jennifer Cook, AAA Washington spokesperson, in a press release. “That, coupled with an increase in consumer confidence, makes celebrating with an all-American road trip a popular choice for travelers this holiday.”

Consumer spending is continuing to rise in spite of stagnant income growth. In the third quarter of this year spending is expected to increase 3.8 percent year-over-year, while disposable personal income is only expected to increase 1.4 percent.

Travelers likely to pay lower gas prices for Labor Day

Most U.S. consumers are paying the lowest gas prices for early August since 2010. AAA expects gas prices to have little impact on the number of people traveling for Labor Day, though lower prices could help make travel more affordable.

Prices are likely to remain relatively low leading up to the holiday weekend compared to recent years. The current price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline in Washington state is $3.89, 45 cents above the national average, and up 8 cents compared to Labor Day last year.

Airfare and hotel costs rise:

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase six percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $171 per night compared to $161 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen nine percent with an average cost of $125 per night.

Airfares have risen 2 percent with the average round-trip, discounted fare for the top 40 U.S. routes costing $219, up from $214 last year.

Seattle ranked among top Labor Day destinations:

Based on national hotel booking data, Seattle is ranked among the top Labor Day travel destinations for 2014. Top U.S. destinations include:

Las Vegas, NV

San Diego, CA

Orlando, FL

New York, NY

Anaheim, CA

Atlanta, GA

Chicago, IL

Monterey, CA

Boston, MA

San Francisco, CA

New Orleans, LA

Seattle, WA

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays

-From a press release

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