The official start of summer is just six weeks away and AAA wants travelers to know if they’re planning a Memorial Day getaway, start now if you haven’t already. AAA Travel booking data shows that reservations for flights, rental cars, cruises and hotels for Memorial Day are up 122% over last year.
“We saw a notable increase in our travel bookings in early spring, which is a strong indication of what to expect for summer,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “Despite inflation and higher gas prices, people want to travel and we believe they will find ways to do so without breaking their budget.”
Airfares – Best (and Worst) Time to Book for Memorial Day
Recent AAA booking data shows the best time to purchase airfare is about two weeks before Memorial Day with travelers paying an average of $445 per ticket. Those who like a longer planning window will pay slightly more since flights reserved 28 – 60 days ahead of the holiday are coming in at an average of $470 each. Sunday offers the lowest airfare followed by Friday (an average price of $543 and $596, respectively).
AAA advises that travelers looking for a last-minute deal by waiting to book the week of Memorial Day will end up paying almost double – an average of $845 per flight. AAA also wants travelers to know that in the past, the cheapest day to fly for Memorial Day weekend has consistently been Saturday. This year, however, it is the most expensive day to fly. As expected, Friday is the most popular air travel day and Memorial Day is the lightest.
When looking at the average costs of airfare for each day over Memorial Day weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday) for 2022 compared to 2021, flights are skewing about $160 more this year.
Think Like an Early Bird
Travelers who want to get away for Memorial Day should start planning now. To maximize time, savings and alleviate stress, AAA recommends working with a trusted travel agent. These industry experts have many resources at their disposal to help plan and organize a trip that fits a traveler’s specific needs and budget. They can easily look at a variety of options and scenarios to find deals and savings not always available to the public. AAA also offers travelers the following advice:
- Flexibility is key – where and when you travel – fly on off-peak times/days, pick a hidden gem closer to home or opt to stay at an all-inclusive resort with plenty of on-site activities. This limits the need for a rental car and paying a la carte for entertainment and dining.
- Book early – flights, hotels, tours, cruises, car rentals – the earlier the better to lock in the best rate and make sure to ask about discounts for pre-paying. Something else a travel agent can help navigate.
- Travel with your bubble – small group travel rose in popularity during the pandemic when many opted to vacation with people they were in close contact with. Consider taking a group trip to divvy up costs for things like activities and accommodations. If everyone is spread out, a travel agent can help manage the logistics.
- Protect your investment – the first step to planning your trip is to purchase travel insurance. This provides a safety net should something unexpected happen ahead of or during your trip. This is another example of where a travel agent is useful. They know you, your trip, your budget and your specific needs and can easily walk you through what travel insurance policy makes the most sense.
Top Destinations include Big Cities and Beaches
Travelers are targeting big cities and beaches for their Memorial Day getaways this year. These are the top 10 domestic destinations according to AAA bookings for flights, tours, car rentals and hotels:
- Orlando, FL
- Seattle, WA
- Miami, FL
- Las Vegas, NV
- Anchorage, AK
- Honolulu, HI
- Boston, MA
- Anaheim, CA
- New York, NY
- San Francisco, CA
Travelers heading abroad and choosing classic destinations like:
- Vancouver, BC, Canada
- Paris, France
- Dublin, Ireland
- London, England
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Rome, Italy
- Cancun, Mexico
- Barcelona, Spain
- Budapest, Hungary
- Athens, Greece
Diamonds Shine Brighter and Cleaner
For more than 80 years, AAA’s Diamond program has helped travelers pick the best in accommodations and dining when planning their vacation. These establishments must meet AAA’s high standards of cleanliness, comfort and hospitality to earn this honor. At the heart of the Diamond program are AAA Inspectors who are experienced, industry experts working with the best interest of the traveler in mind. New hotels and restaurants are inspected annually and those that make the grade are added as new Diamond honorees. For 2022, AAA added 103 new four and five diamond hotels and restaurants, some of which are located in top Memorial Day destinations like Orlando, Miami, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Boston, Anaheim, New York and San Francisco. For the full list of these newly added Diamond honorees, click here.
The pandemic had a profound effect on travelers’ expectations for cleanliness and AAA evolved its Diamond program to respond to this need. In 2021, AAA expanded its housekeeping evaluation to include objective, scientific validation of the cleanliness of common surfaces throughout hotels. Every hotel that is inspected and part of the Diamond program must meet this standard and are recognized as Inspected Clean. To find an Inspected Clean, Diamond-rated property for your next trip, click here.