AAA: 2.3 million Floridians to take a Memorial Day getaway

A strong economy and weaker gas prices should help boost travel numbers this Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The Auto Club Group forecasts the strongest kick-off to the summer travel season since 2005, and the second-largest travel volume on record – dating back to 2000.

Florida travel figures

• Total Travelers – 2.3 million Floridians; 86,000 (3.9 percent) more than last year.

• Auto Travelers – 2 million Floridians; 76,000 (3.9 percent) more than last year.

• Air Travelers – 184,443 Floridians; 9,000 (5.3 percent) more than last year.

• Other Travelers – 60,655 Floridians; 321 (0.5 percent) more than last year.

National travel figures

• Total Travelers – 42.8 million Americans; 1.5 million (3.6 percent) more than last year.

• Auto Travelers – 37.6 million Americans; 1.3 million (3.5 percent) more than last year.

• Air Travelers – 3.25 million Americans; 150,000 (4.8 percent) more than last year.

• Other Travelers – 1.9 million Americans; 69,000 (3.8 percent) more than last year.

“Floridians are eagerly anticipating the start of summer, and gas prices should not be a deterrent,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Consumer spending remains strong, helped by solid job and income growth. Families continue to allocate their disposable incomes on travel, and a near-record number of them will do just that for Memorial Day.”

Drivers beware: Worst times to hit the road

For the 37.6 million Americans traveling by automobile, AAA predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday, May 24, and Friday, May 25, in the late afternoons as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.

Some of the most congested areas will be popular attractions, theme parks and beaches. Drivers returning home are most likely to encounter congested roads on Sunday or Monday afternoons.

Declining gas prices should help holiday travelers

Florida drivers could find the lowest Memorial Day gas prices in two years.

Last year, the state average for gasoline on Memorial Day was $2.91 per gallon.

The average price this week was slightly below $2.70 per gallon - the lowest daily average price in two months.

The 20-cent difference amounts to a savings of $3 for a full 15-gallon tank of gasoline. Visit Gasprices.AAA.com to view current and historical gas prices.

“Holiday travelers who save at the pump generally reallocate that money toward lodging, shopping or dining out,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. “Cheaper gasoline could also help convince undecided travelers to take a trip for the holiday. Gas prices are steadily declining, and there’s a good chance that holiday gas prices remain below last year’s levels. However, the fuel market is still quite volatile, and there’s plenty of time for prices to rise again.”