Travel up, gas prices down for Labor Day weekend

Aug 29, 2014

More New Yorkers are planning to get away for an end-of-summer weekend than have in the past six years.

Travel service AAA says nearly 35 million Americans will travel over the three-day Labor Day weekend. That's more people than have traveled since 2008, before the recession.

And the “stay-cations” of recent years past are no longer. 

"The recession is really no top of mind for a lot of folks. So if they want to travel, they’re going to travel. We’ve seen a slow, steady rebound, so that’s been great news for the industry," said AAA spokeswoman Diana Dibble.

She says for central New Yorkers, Labor Day weekend still usually means trips fairly close to home. 

"A lot of local travel, Adirondacks, the Thousand Islands, Finger Lakes, Niagara Falls," she said. "And then we do still have people that are trying to get that last beach vacation in."

But with school here again, Dibble says it’s only a three-day weekend for most.

"Kids are heading back to school, so unlike July 4th where people may make a longer vacation out of it, we are seeing people stay closer to home," she said.

Dibble says they see more people hit the road when Labor Day weekend falls in August, instead of early September.

While the average price of an airline ticket is up about $5, AAA reports, fuel costs are at a four year low. Prices are down 15 cents from a month ago around central New York, to about $3.56 a gallon.

Lower gas prices don’t tend to have a big impact on the number of people traveling, though, according to Dibble. 

"What we generally tend to see is, it have an impact on travel budgets. And what I mean by that is, if people are going to travel, they’re going to travel," she said. "But if the gas prices are up, they’re going to spend less on shopping or entertainment, or other types of things while they’re traveling."

So with gas prices down, Dibble says more money will be spent at travelers’ destinations, instead of on getting there.

AAA credits a quiet hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico and stability in oil markets overseas for the price decline.