AAA Predicts More Travelers to Hit the Road this Labor Day

High gas prices and a sluggish economy won’t force Americans to stay home this Labor Day.

According to a survey released Tuesday by the AAA, 33 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles over the holiday weekend, increasing 2.9 percent since last year.

AAA is forecasting that 33 million people will hit the road from Thursday, Aug. 30, to Monday, Sept. 3. This figure is up from 32.1 million in 2011, despite the recent jump at the pump.

The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.72 — 22 cents higher than it was 30 days ago and 14 cents more than last Labor Day.

The study also suggests that nationwide gas prices are not expected to have a major negative impact on travelers’ plans, as 66 percent of those surveyed said current financial situations would not impact Labor Day arrangements. Those looking to save money on holiday travel expenses reported skipping out on hotel reservations to stay with family or friends. Others said they would take a shorter trip, use a more economical mode of transportation, or spend less on shopping or sightseeing.

About 28 million Americans, or 85 percent of vacationers, will travel by car during the holiday weekend, increasing 3.1 percent over last year, while more than 2.5 million will travel by plane, a 3.7 percent rise from 2011.

The average distance one will travel this Labor Day is about 626 miles, though 54 percent of those surveyed said their holiday trip will fall between 100-400 miles total.

If the AAA’s projections materialize, this Labor Day would be the highest travel volume since 2008, when the recession started affecting motorists’ driving patterns. It would also be the third projected increase among holiday travel in 2012, following Memorial Day (1.2 percent) and  Independence Day (4.9 percent).

About Brittney French

Brittney is a journalist and media relations specialist who lives in St. Louis, Mo. When she's not blogging for Lebanon Ford, she is the author of a women's column and also writes about music, events, and St. Louis sports. Having little knowledge in the automotive industry, Brittney provides valuable insight on cars for those who may be in the same boat. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter @brittfrancois.