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Labor Day travel expected to increase despite higher fuel costs

August 21, 2012|By Hugo Martin
  • More Americans are expected to travel for the Labor Day holiday, according to a forecast by the AAA.
More Americans are expected to travel for the Labor Day holiday, according… (Six Flags Magic Mountain )

Despite a still-unsteady economy and rising fuel costs, Americans are expected to travel in big numbers over the Labor Day holiday, posting the third increase in holiday travel this year, according to the American Automobile Assn.

During the holiday weekend of Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, AAA forecasts that 33 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home, a 2.9% increase over last year.

The forecast suggests Americans have shaken off anxiety over the economy and are spending on travel again. The AAA forecast a 1.2% increase in travel for the Memorial Day weekend this year and a 4.9% increase for the Independence Day holiday.

The national average price for a gallon of regular self-serve gasoline is $3.72, which is 22 cents more than one month ago and 14 cents more than at this  time in 2011.

The AAA attributes the increase to improving consumer confidence and "Americans' unwavering desire to travel."

"Travel is still within America's discretionary spending budget," said Bill Sutherland, vice president of AAA travel services.

The forecast was partly based on a survey of 1,350 households, taken from July 16 to 20.

Of those who planned to travel, 66% said their current financial situation would not negatively affect their Labor Day travel plans. Of those who said their financial situation would affect their plans, 21% said they will save money by planning a shorter trip, shopping less, staying with family instead of booking a hotel or taking a cheaper mode of transportation.

About 28 million Americans, or 85% of vacationers, will travel by car for the holiday, an increase of 3.1% over last year, the AAA forecast said. An additional  2.55 million Americans will travel by plane, a 3.7% increase over 2011, the group said.

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