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AAA: More travelers to hit the road during Labor Day weekend

Despite the recent rise in gas prices, more people plan to travel during the upcoming Labor Day holiday than last year.

Story highlights

  • Travelers are also expected to spend more on their trips, AAA says
  • Survey: Gas prices are not expected to have a major impact on travel plans
  • Air travel for the holiday is expected to rise 3.7%

Despite the recent uptick in gas prices, the last major travel holiday of the summer is expected to be busier.

According to AAA's survey of Labor Day travel released Tuesday, 33 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles for the upcoming long weekend, an increase of 2.9% from 2011.

Travelers are also expected to spend more on their trips. The median cost of $749 this year is slightly higher than last year's average of $702.

The automotive and travel services group says the vast majority of those travelers, 28.2 million of them, will hit the roadways for their trip.

The nationwide average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline is 14 cents higher than it was when AAA did its Labor Day forecasting last August, but below the year's peak of $3.94 in April.

The survey found nationwide gas prices are not expected to have a major negative impact on travelers' plans, and two-third of those surveyed said their current financial outlook would not impact their Labor Day plans either.

Those looking to save money on their travel said they will skip hotels and stay with family or friends, take a shorter trip, use a more economical mode of transportation or spend less on shopping or sightseeing.

Air travel for the holiday is expected to rise 3.7%, thanks to a 4% dip in airfares from last year. 2.55 million passengers will fly to their Labor Day destination, while 2.3 million will use other modes of transportation like buses, rail and cruise ships.

The average trip will stretch 626 miles, though 54% of those surveyed said their Labor Day excursion will fall between 100 and 400 miles roundtrip.

AAA projections saw a 1.2% year-over-year uptick for Memorial Day travel this year, and a 4.9% increase for the Independence Day holiday.

The Labor Day survey looks at the travel period between Thursday, August 30, and Monday, September 3.