PhotoMemorial Day weekend is fast approaching, and with it the start of the summer travel season. Consumers typically choose that holiday weekend to take a short trip.

This year, if you plan to leave town you might want to avoid the airport. As we reported this week, the nation's busier airports have produced huge bottlenecks at security checkpoints – delays that have forced many passengers to miss flights.

Unless you are going coast to coast, you might consider driving, and apparently many are. AAA estimates that more than 38 million Americans will travel over the Memorial Day weekend this year, the most since 2005.

In addition to nightmare lines at the airport, AAA says the lowest gasoline prices in a decade will no doubt encourage many consumers to drive to their destination.

Incentive for a road trip

"The great American road trip is officially back thanks to low gas prices, and millions of people from coast to coast are ready to kick off summer with a Memorial Day getaway," said Marshall Doney, AAA President and CEO.

Thanks to lower gasoline prices, consumers may have a little more to spend on holiday travel this year. AAA estimates consumers have pocketed $18 billion more on fuel savings in the first four months of the year, compared to the same period last year. Wages are going up, along with employment.

With all the recent videos showing endless airport lines, it's no surprise the majority of travelers will get behind the wheel. According to AAA, some 89% of holiday travelers this year will drive, rather than take commercial transportation.

If you check into a hotel along the way, you can expect to pay about what you did last year. AAA says three Diamond Rated hotels will average $183 a night, while a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel will average $151 nightly. Renting a car will also be a little cheaper than last year.

Top destinations

While many travelers plan to visit friends and relatives, others are headed for traditional vacation spots. AAA's top 10 destinations, based on AAA.com and travel agency sales, are:

  1. Orlando
  2. Myrtle Beach
  3. Washington, D.C.
  4. New York
  5. Miami
  6. San Francisco
  7. Boston
  8. Honolulu
  9. Los Angeles
  10. South Padre Island, Tex.

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