With Americans buoyed by an improving housing market, the AAA auto club
is predicting the highest turnout for travel over the Labor Day weekend since
the depths of the Great Recession.
An estimated 34.1 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home during the holiday, which AAA defines as starting Thursday, Aug. 29, and ending on Monday, Sept. 2. That would be a 4.2 percent increase from the 32.7 million people who traveled over Labor Day 2012 and the highest total since 2008, when 45.1 million people took a trip.
"AAA is forecasting a lift in Labor Day travel this year due to the increasingly positive economic outlook and optimism in the housing market," said Robert Darbelnet, AAA president and chief executive officer. "For many Americans, their home is also their biggest asset, [and] as home prices improve in many parts of the country, more families are feeling comfortable about traveling."
There's a bit of good news for travelers this year: Gasoline costs about 5 percent less now than it did a year ago. The national average price for a gallon of regular gas Tuesday was $3.54, versus $3.72 last year; in Orlando the average was $3.41 versus $3.57.
But while prices at the pump are lower, AAA said they remain at levels that many consumers consider "too high."
Labor Day travelers hoping to avoid the highways are their busiest should take heed: The largest share of travelers plan to depart on Friday, Aug. 30, and return on Monday, Sept. 2.
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