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Despite national record-high gas prices averaging more than $2.61 per gallon, AAA expects no let up in travel for the Labor Day holiday weekend.
An estimated 34.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a 0.9% increase from the 34.2 million who traveled last year.
AAA is estimating that 83% of holiday travelers, or around 28.8 million, will go by motor vehicle while 12% will travel by airplane.
“Labor Day marks the end of an eventful and surprisingly strong summer travel season,” said Gail Weinholzer, spokesperson, AAA Minnesota/Iowa. “We’ve seen record high gas prices, an early start to hurricane season, terror attacks in London and continued weakness by the dollar, but Americans have traveled nonetheless.”
The forecast 0.9% increase for this Labor Day is the smallest expected rise since the 1.8% increase set on Memorial Day 2003, when holiday travel began to rebound after the 9/11 attacks and Iraq invasion. In 2004, Labor Day travel increased by 2.4% over the previous year.
Holiday auto travelers will find gas prices nationwide currently averaging $2.61 for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline, up nearly 32 cents from a month ago and 73 cents higher than last year.
AAA’s Leisure Travel Index also shows other vacation costs up from last year. Hotel rates have increased, averaging 8% higher for AAA-rated Three Diamond hotels for the 20 top destinations used in the comparison. Airfares are up about 8% and car rental rates increased about 5%.
“With many vacation costs up this holiday weekend, travelers should shop around and use discounts to find the best hotel value,” said Weinholzer. “Even though gasoline still will make up a relatively small part of many families’ travel expenses, it’s worth taking steps to save on gasoline and improve fuel economy to soften the sting of the highest ever summer gas prices.”