Record Memorial Day travel despite inflation? What to know about rising trip costs

Summer travel is kicking off. And despite inflation, travel over Memorial Day is expected to be record-setting.

Here’s what you should know:

More than 42 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more this weekend, according to AAA. It might be the third busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000. That’s when AAA started tracking holiday travel.

“More Americans are planning trips and booking them earlier, despite inflation,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in a news release. “This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports.”

Airfare prices are up 9.6% since April 2019, according to NerdWallet’s May 2023 report on travel inflation. And 3.4 million people are expected to fly — up 11% from last year. That’s projected to out-do pre-pandemic levels, according to AAA.

Plus, 37.1 million travelers are taking road trips this weekend, up more than 2 million. That’s just 500,000 people below 2019 and is being helped by lower gas prices compared to last year. At this time last year, regular gas averaged $4.6 a gallon. As of May 26, gas averaged $3.57, according to AAA’s gas price tracker.

Car rental prices are down 11.2% from last year, but are 51.4% higher than 2019.

Overall, travel prices are up compared to pre-pandemic.

Hotels are almost 15.3% more expensive and entertainment (such as movies, theaters and concerts) are up 18.2%. Food away from home is up 24.2% from 2019, according to Nerdwallet.

The higher prices are a result of inflation and an increase in travel demand.

“So people should expect to pay more for their travel than they have in even the past couple of years,” Sally French, a vacation inflation tracker for NerdWallet, told CBS News.

@thesum.news If you’re traveling this weekend and looking to save, you can try: 1) Paying with miles and credit card points. 2) Packing snacks for the trip or stopping by the grocery store at your destination to reduce how much you’re going out to eat. 3) Driving instead of flying, with gas prices down about $1 a gallon compared to a year ago, according to AAA. #TheSumNews #MemorialDay #MemorialDayTravel #TravelTips ♬ original sound - The Sum

Tips for you to save

  • Pay with miles and credit card points, NerdWallet recommended.

  • Pack snacks for the trip or stop by the grocery store at your destination to reduce how much you’re going out to eat.

  • Drive instead of fly, with gas prices down about $1 a gallon compared to a year ago, according to AAA.