AAA Carolinas projects an estimated 1,300,000 North Carolinians and 615,000 South Carolinians will travel this Memorial Day weekend (a 3.6 percent increase from last year), the second highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes in 2000.
Despite rising gas prices across the Carolinas, the vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations. For motorists hitting the road, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects travel delays on major roads to be more than three times longer than normal.
By the Numbers:
- 1,705,000 Carolinians (close to 1,166,000 North Carolinians and 539,000 South Carolinians) will drive to their destinations, a 3.5% increase from last year.
- 139,000 Carolinians (roughly 99,000 North Carolinians and 40,000 South Carolinians) are taking to the skies this Memorial Day, increasing air travel by 4.8%.
- 70,800 Carolinians (37,000 North Carolinians and 33,800 South Carolinians), an increase of 3.8% from 2018, will look to other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses.
Drivers beware: Worst times to hit the road
For the 37.6 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24 in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.
Increased Danger on the Roads
Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the “100 Deadliest Days”, the period when teen traffic deaths historically rise, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Last year, there were 1,768 collisions resulting in 918 injuries and 10 fatalities in North Carolina and 1,008 collisions resulting in 501 injuries and 12 fatalities in South Carolina.
Before hitting the road, make sure your vehicle is road-trip ready. Make a good B-E-T to stay on the road this summer by having your Battery tested, looking for Engine coolant leaks and checking Tire condition.
Be prepared for emergencies with a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers
Travelers to see relief in lower hotel and car rental costs
While road trippers are paying more to fill up their vehicles at the gas pump, some of that additional expense can be made up with lower prices on car rentals and hotels this Memorial Day. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, car rental prices have declined 7% compared with last year, with an average daily rate of $55. Mid-range hotels are between 2% and 3% cheaper this year, with an average nightly rate of $146 and $183, respectively, for AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated properties. Meanwhile, airfares are holding steady compared with last Memorial Day, for an average roundtrip price of $171.
Top Memorial Day travel destinations, based on AAA Carolinas Travel bookings:
- Las Vegas
- Myrtle Beach