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Oklahomans Set to 'Drive' Into Summer, Says AAA

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OKLAHOMA CITY Okla_ The first three-day weekend of the summer has nearly arrived and according to AAA, Oklahomans will be "driving" their way into summer.

The Memorial Day holiday commemorates those who have died in service to our country, while also serving as the unofficial kickoff of the summer season.

According to AAA Oklahoma's Memorial Day travel forecast, 611,500 Oklahomans are expected to travel over Memorial Day, representing an increase of 0.9 percent from last year. Nationwide, 34.8 million Americans are predicted to travel, a decrease of 0.9 percent from 2012.

"Memorial Day travel is a mixed bag this year," said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Travel, the largest leisure travel agency in North America. "A decline in air travel has pulled overall travel down below year-ago levels, but auto travel remains strong. This is consistent with patterns seen by AAA Travel agents and counselors."

Four trends from AAA's 2013 Memorial Day forecast for Oklahomans include:

  1. Road trips rule
    According to a AAA survey, 521,000 Oklahomans – 85 percent of holiday travelers – plan to drive to their destination, representing an increase of 2.2 percent from last year. However, this survey was conducted April 8 to April 12 when gasoline prices were substantially lower than they are today. Although AAA believes gas prices in Oklahoma have now peaked and will begin to decline, the statewide average for self-serve regular today is $3.909 per gallon, 63 cents more than the price recorded as recently as April 29.
  2. Air travel takes a dip
    80,500 Oklahomans plan to fly to their Memorial Day destination, a decrease of 4.3 percent from last year. AAA attributes this decline to travelers who are deterred by airfare prices. For many travelers' budgets, road trips make more sense this summer, according to AAA travel experts.  
  3. Trip distance highlights popular drive destinations
    The average roundtrip distance traveled by Oklahomans is expected to be a little less than 830 miles. However, 70 percent of Oklahomans will travel 700 miles or fewer, which encompasses trips to many popular drivable summer destinations including state parks and lakes, Branson, Eureka Springs and Dallas.
  4. Food, beverages & accommodations consumes 39% of holiday budget
    Mmedian spending this Memorial Day is $567. Of this, 20 percent will go for food and beverages while 19 percent will go for accommodations. The remaining expenditures will be divided among entertainment and recreation (18 percent), shopping (16 percent), fuel (12 percent), other transportation (10 percent) and miscellaneous expenses (5 percent).

In addition, AAA reports car rental rates are the highest they've been in four years, with a weekend daily rate average of $43, which is 19 percent above last year.

 

AAA offers a variety of mobile travel resources including AAA Mobile, a free app for Smartphone users. The app uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, locate nearby discounts, summon roadside assistance, and find current gas prices and more. Travelers can learn more about this resource at AAA.com/mobile.

Research for Memorial Day travel projections are derived from IHS Global Insight, which conducts special research for AAA. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as trips that include travel of 50 miles or more during the five-day period from Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.

AAA is a full-service travel agency. For more information, visit AAA.com/travel

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