Forecast: 760,000 Coloradans Traveling on Memorial Day

Travel delays could be up to three times longer than normal


DENVER (May 23, 2018) – Traveling this Memorial Day? You're certainly not alone, according to a new forecast from AAA Colorado. All told, nearly 760,000 Coloradans will be taking to the roads and skies this weekend – a 6 percent increase over last year and the most in more than a dozen years. Despite gas prices hitting their highest mark since 2014, the vast majority of Coloradans are road-tripping for Memorial Day – more than 665,000, in total.

"Plain and simple, people just aren't worried about pump prices," said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley. "A strong economy, our record-low unemployment rate, and skyrocketing consumer confidence are giving Coloradans all the motivation they need to kick off what's sure to be a busy summer travel season with a Memorial Day getaway."

Drivers Beware: Worst Times to Hit the Road

Across the country, more than 41.5 million Americans will be traveling for Memorial Day, with most (36.6 million) taking to the roads. That can only mean one thing: Traffic, and a lot of it. AAA projects that travel times could be up to three times longer than normal in several major U.S. metros, including Denver. Congestion will be at its worst in the evenings of Thursday, May 24 and Friday, May 25 – as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. 

"The United States is ranked the most congested country in the world – a fact drivers can expect to observe firsthand this weekend," McKinley said. "Make sure to avoid peak commute times in major cities altogether by traveling in the late morning or early afternoon, or planing alternative routes." 

Higher gas prices not deterring travelers

The 88 percent of travelers choosing to drive will pay the most expensive Memorial Day gas prices since 2014. Coloradans can expect to pay between $2.90 and $3.05 on average throughout the Memorial Day holiday period, with prices highest in Vail ($3.12) and lowest in Boulder/Longmont ($2.81). Average Colorado pump prices are up nearly 60 cents from this time last year, due to expensive crude oil, record gasoline demand, shrinking global supply, and political unrest in Iran and Venezuela.

Lower hotel, airline, and car rental costs make up for higher gas prices

While road trippers will pay higher prices at the gas pump this year, travelers can expect some relief in their wallets when paying for airfare, car rentals, and most mid-range hotels. According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, airfares are 7 percent lower than last Memorial Day, landing at an average price of $168 for a round-trip flight along the top 40 domestic routes. At $59, the average daily cost of a car rental this Memorial Day is the lowest rate in the past four years and 11 percent cheaper than last year. 

Travelers will also save on AAA Three Diamond hotels this Memorial Day, which are trending 14 percent less expensive than last year – at an average rate of $186 nightly. Meanwhile, AAA Two Diamond hotels are 7 percent more expensive than last Memorial Day, with an average nightly cost of $151. 

Colorado a top Memorial Day travel destination

Orlando once again tops this year's list of the most-visited Memorial Day destinations in the U.S., based on AAA advance travel bookings. New to the list this year? Denver, Colorado –  coming in as the ninth most popular destination just behind Boston and ahead of New York, New York. Cruises to Alaska, originating in Seattle and Anchorage, as well as warm-weather destinations in Hawaii, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Southern California remain exceptionally popular. 

AAA to rescue more than 340,000 motorists

Nationwide, AAA expects to rescue more than 340,000 motorists at the roadside this Memorial Day weekend. Dead batteries, lockouts, and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. 

Before hitting the road, make sure your vehicle is road-trip ready. Make a good B-E-T to stay on the road this summer by having your Battery tested, looking for Engine coolant leaks and checking T ire condition. Be prepared for emergencies with a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers. 
About the forecast
AAA's projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider first teamed up with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2018 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast is available here

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About AAA Colorado
More than 660,000 members strong, AAA Colorado is the state's most prominent advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services - as well as member-exclusive savings. For more information, visit