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Memorial Day Weekend 2012: More Travelers, Shorter Trips

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More Americans are hitting the road this Memorial Day weekend, but high gas prices are keeping them closer to home.

According to AAA’s annual Memorial Day travel study, 34.8 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home, up 1.2 percent from last year. Although an additional 500,000  people plan to travel, the distance from home will be on average 150 miles shorter than last year due to the high gas prices.

Additional cutback are planned. 65 percent of those surveyed by AAA will reduce spending on entertainment, 34 percent will stay in lower priced hotels and/or 31 percent will stay with friends or relatives instead of a hotel.

Hotel prices are on the rise as well. Travelers can expect to spend 8 percent more for Three Diamond lodgings and 10 percent more for Two Diamond hotels. On the other hand, the car rental rates dropped by 4 percent this year. Recent Priceline’s analysis noted that rental car rates are the cheapest they have been in years–in many airport locations the rates of economy or compact car is under $10-per-day.

Like last year, most people are planning to drive. According to AAA, almost nine out of ten Americans will drive to their holiday destination.

In an interesting twist, a MMGY Global’s study reveals that this year consumers are less likely to alter travel plans if the price of gas rises. Last year 57 percent of Americans stated that rise in gas prices would have a significant impact on their leisure travel. This year the number dropped to 44 percent in April 2012, despite the same rise in gas prices.

In contrast with the AAA study, MMGY Global painted a more optimistic picture. Unlike AAA, their study found fewer travelers would “drive a shorter distance from home and fewer would “cut back on spending for entertainment, dining out and shopping.”

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