Nearly 35 Million of Us Will Travel This Labor Day
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The Fiscal Times
August 28, 2014

More Americans will travel this Labor Day weekend than during last year. Some 34.7 million of us will be journeying 50 miles or more during the holiday, which is traditionally considered the end of summer.

The vast majority of travelers – 86 percent or 29.7 million people – will take a road trip, while nearly 8 percent of travelers, or 2.65 million, will travel by air, according to data from AAA Travel. The Labor Day holiday travel period this year starts today, Thursday, August 28, and ends Monday, September 1.

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Although employment has improved, consumer spending has surpassed income growth, which indicates that Americans are willing to take on debt to fund their Labor Day trips, according to AAA Travel.

“This year, Americans are more optimistic about their financial situation,” said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall Doney in a press release. “Consumer spending continues to outpace disposable income, indicating that Americans are comfortable using their credit cards to take one last summer vacation.”

The number of people traveling for Labor Day has been on the rise since the recession hit in 2009, when 31.3 million people traveled, though it still pales in comparison to 2008, when more than 45 million people took a trip. Last year, 34.3 million Americans went away for the holiday.

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If you’re hitting the road, you’ll be able to take advantage of some of the lowest gas prices for this time of year since 2010. The current price of gas is $3.44 a gallon – compared to $3.59 on Labor Day last year and $3.83 the previous year.

Rental car rates are also expected to remain flat compared with last year, at $51 on average for a day during the holiday weekend.

Airfares, however, have risen 2 percent, with the average round-trip discounted fare for the top 40 U.S. routes costing $219, up from $214 last year. Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are also expected to rise 6 percent from a year ago, to an average of $171 per night.

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Marine Cole has been covering finance and business for a decade and has written for publications that include The Wall Street Journal, Crain's New York Business, and AdvertisingAge.