“As the economy continues to improve at a slow and steady pace, consumer spending, disposable income, consumer confidence and the employment outlook are trending up, which is welcomed news for the travel industry,” said Marshall Doney, AAA chief operating officer.
For the holiday weekend travel—counted as Thursday, May 22 to Monday, May 26—about 31.8 million people (or 88 percent of the trekkers) will travel by automobile, and they’ll see gas prices in line with a year ago, about $3.63 per gallon, according to AAA.
Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are up 2 percent, to $169 per night, from a year ago, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. The same forecast sees airfares up 6 percent on the average round-trip discounted fares for the top 40 U.S. routes.
The average summer trip will reach 10 days this year, up from seven last summer, according to the American Express Travel survey of travel counselors. “That’s a big jump,” said Laura Fink, vice president of marketing at American Express Travel.
As for the types of upgrades, “it’s across the board,” she said. “People are paying a little more for the extras, cabin upgrades on cruise ships, better rooms at hotels. … They’re moving to the front of the plane.”
Summer trips booked thus far indicate spending is up roughly 1 percent from last year, a spokesman for Priceline travel booking website told CNBC.
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Several of the new surveys show Americans are finally traveling again after a tough recession.
The Bryants of Borger, Texas, certainly fit that bill. This year, they were finally able to take their first long family vacation in almost 10 years.
“We haven’t gotten to do a big trip because of the recession,” Lesia Bryant said, nodding to her husband, Greg. “He has a small business, and we just haven’t been able to until business picked up.”