All aboard!

All aboard!

Is America on the road to recovery with an increase in holiday travel?

By Jennifer Hadley 05/27/2010

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Ah, it’s that glorious time of year again, when we celebrate the unofficial start of summer by remembering those we’ve lost in battles. Naturally, there is no better way to commemorate those we’ve lost in wars than by taking a mini-vacation. That’s what more than 32 million Americans will do this weekend, with 28 million opting to travel by car, according to AAA.com.  
 
If I had a single penny to my name, I, too, would be taking to the freeways to enjoy my three-day weekend elsewhere. However, just because I’m unable to afford a vacation doesn’t mean that I’m any less encouraged by news that holiday travel should be up this year. It frankly gives me just a little bit of hope that this God-awful recession may finally be coming to an end. 
 
Indeed, nationwide the numbers of those hitting the road this three-day weekend, and those who plan to travel more than 50 miles are set to increase fairly substantially. In fact, the predicted increase in travel this holiday weekend should result in the first increase we’ve seen in five years. Yes, since 2005, Memorial Day travel has been slowly declining. But this year represents a shift, according to the incredibly thorough AAA Memorial Day 2010 Travel Forecast, which was compiled in conjunction with some company called HIS Global Insight.
 
The report relays that, despite the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and gas prices roughly 75 cents higher per gallon than a year ago, the number of Americans traveling this weekend should climb from 30.5 million to slightly more than 32 million. That’s an increase of more than 5 percent compared to 2009. The reason for the increase? According to the forecast, improving consumer sentiment, rising household net worth and an increased gross domestic product are all considered reasons for the uptick in forecasted travelers.
 
While I know that my personal consumer sentiments and my net worth continue to do nothing other than nosedive, I’m glad many of my fellow Americans are feeling a bit more optimistic about things. Specifically, an estimated 10 percent of the population here in the Pacific region will be traveling this weekend. And they’re planning to travel a long, long way.
 
Nearly 30 percent of travelers in the Pacific region are expected to go more than 1,500 miles, with the average distance being 842 miles roundtrip. This represents the greatest travel distance of the nine regions of the country analyzed for the forecast. Holy smokes! That is a whole lot of driving for a whole lot of people in just three days, with only 1 percent expected to travel by air. Moreover, residents in this region are going to spend a lot more money on their weekend than the national average. The national median cost of holiday travel this weekend should add up to roughly $810, but Pacific region folks will spend approximately $250 more on our vacations. 
 
Yeah, I’d really like to have a thousand bucks to spend this weekend on travel, but it’s not meant to be this year. But to all of you who are taking to planes, trains and automobiles this weekend, I applaud you. Get out there and spend, and keep the economy on the road to recovery. Maybe that way I can take a Memorial Day vacation next year. In return, I promise to pay homage to our fallen heroes locally, in case you forget during your travels. 

Contact Jennifer Hadley at jmhadley624@yahoo.com

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