Traveling for Memorial Day? You’ll have plenty of company--about 42 million of you will kick off the unofficial start of summer with a trip

Getting away at LAX is always an adventure. But travelers can expect better round-trip fares this holiday.
(File photo by Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Expect more cars on the road and more lines at the airport this Memorial Day weekend. The Auto Club says 41.5 million Americans will kick off the summer season with a trip over the long holiday, up nearly 5% over a year ago and the most in a dozen years.

For travelers in L.A., the peak travel time with be Friday, May 25, between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m., when car traffic is expected to be twice what it normally is.

Forget those high gas prices. Some 88% of travelers will still choose to drive, though pump prices have jumped due to demand and diminishing global supplies. It will be the fourth straight year that highway traffic has increased over the holiday.

Though gas has jumped, travelers can expect better deals for airfares, car rentals and mid-priced hotels. The Auto Club’s Leisure Travel Index says that airfares are 7% lower than a year ago, averaging $168 for the top 40 U.S. round-trip routes. The average daily cost to rent a car, about $59, is the lowest rate in four years.


AAA says a strong economy and growing consumer confidence are behind the surges in travel.

By the numbers:

Cars and RVs: Some 36.6 million travelers are expected to hit the road.

Planes: 3.1 million people will travel by air, up almost 7% over last year.

Trains, buses and cruise ships: Those sectors will increase by 2.4%, for a total of 1.8 million passengers.