THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Memorial Day weekend travel should rise 1.5%

By Chris Reidy
Globe Staff / May 12, 2009
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The number of Americans planning to travel on vacation this Memorial Day holiday weekend will rise 1.5 percent from 2008 with 32.4 million travelers taking a trip of 50 miles or more away from home, according to AAA Southern New England.

"When comparing the projected number of travelers in 2009 with those who traveled in 2008, the six-state New England region shows the highest percentage increases of any region in the country when it comes to total travel and travel specifically by motor vehicle," AAA Southern New England said in a press release.

(At right, an AP file photo of Memorial Day weekend traffic.)

The double whammy of soaring gas prices and a deteriorating economy resulted in far fewer trips taken last year than had been forecast, the group said

In a statement, AAA Southern New England senior vice president Lloyd P. Albert commented on this year's Memorial Day weekend outlook.

''The good news is lower gasoline prices and plentiful travel bargains have Americans feeling better about taking a road trip this summer which should help tourism-based economic activity throughout our nation,'' Albert said.

While vacations by car are expected to increase, the AAA press release projected that trips by air will decline 1 percent, with about 2.1 million Americans flying, accounting for 7 percent of total travelers.

"Compared to last year, total travel by New Englanders is expected to be up 7.2 percent over last year, with an 8.5 percent increase over last year for those traveling by car, the largest percentage increases in the country," the press release said.

Yesterday AAA Southern New England noted in its weekly survey that the average price for a gallon of self-serve regular unleaded gas in Massachusetts was $2.189; while that was 15 cents higher than the previous week, it was still far less than the $3.68 average at this time last year.