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AAA: Slight drop expected in Labor Day travel

August 31, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • A line of vehicles travels on Interstate 70 east of Hagerstown on Wednesday afternoon.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Fewer Marylanders plan to travel during Labor Day weekend this year than last year, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

A survey by the auto club shows that travel is expected to be down 2.7 percent overall, including a drop of 0.4 percent by car and 2.9 percent by air.

For all other modes — including bus, train and watercraft — the projected decline is 34.4 percent, the survey said.

Eighty-nine percent of travel is expected to be done by car.

The travel projections "are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight," according to a AAA Mid-Atlantic news release.

IHS Global Insight does a similar survey for AAA on four other travel periods — Memorial Day, July 4, Thanksgiving and the week of Christmas and New Year's Day, AAA spokeswoman Ragina Averella said.

For the survey of the Labor Day weekend — defined as Sept. 1-5 — IHS Global Insight contacted 1,350 households from July 25-29, Averella said.

Of those, 345 indicated that they planned to travel at least 50 miles round trip this coming weekend.

Researchers asked for additional information from those 345 households, including travel behaviors and expenses, she said.

Using those results, the survey projected that about 604,000 Marylanders will travel.

It's unknown if Hurricane Irene, which happened since the survey was done, will alter or hamper any Labor Day weekend plans.

Averella said people whose travel plans were wiped out last weekend because of the storm might travel this coming weekend instead.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in Maryland is about 37 percent higher than it was at the same time last year, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic, which covers Maryland, Virginia and Delaware.

Prices were dropping at the end of August, until the hurricane approached.

AAA Mid-Atlantic said a later Labor Day — Sept. 5 this year — also tends to cut into travel because it's the beginning of the school year.

Other survey results found:

  • The average distance traveled is expected to be 722 miles round trip, a 4 percent decline from last year and 114 miles more than the nationwide average.
  • Sixty-eight percent of travelers will go 50 to 400 miles round trip, compared to 50 percent last year.
  • Seven percent will travel more than 1,500 miles round trip, versus 24 percent last year.
  • Fifty-three percent of travelers will travel alone or with one other adult and 18 percent will be with family.
  • Median spending on travel is expected to be $879, which is 20 percent higher than last year.

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