Marylanders with ‘pent up demand’ to travel more this Labor Day weekend

Perhaps due to “pent up demand” among many Marylanders who stayed put for the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays this summer, this Labor Day weekend is expected to be a big travel period for many in the state, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

The recent downward trend in gasoline prices probably isn’t hurting, either.

About 678,000 Marylanders are expected to travel this year, with the vast majority — 590,000, or 87 percent — traveling by car, a 2.8 percent increase over last year, AAA said. Another 52,800 are expected to travel by air, and 34,600 by bus, boats and other forms of travel, for 1.1 percent and 2.7 percent increases over last year, respectively, AAA found.

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The statewide numbers follow national estimates from AAA Travel, which predicted last week that some 34.1 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this weekend, a 4.2 percent increase over last year and the highest number of Labor Day travelers since the recession ended in 2009.

The Labor Day travel period is considered to be Thursday through Monday.

“After scaling back travel for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, Marylanders are planning to get away,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Ragina C. Averella, in a statement.

“While the overall financial picture remains mixed, economic indicators have improved from last year and have been trending upward during 2013. As a result, there appears to be pent-up demand by Marylanders to get away for the last summer holiday as many stayed put for the first two major summer holidays.”

As of Monday, gas in Maryland stood at $3.54 per gallon, which is 2 cents lower than last week, 14 cents lower than last month and 17 cents lower than this time last year, AAA said.

The 900,000-member traveler organization predicts those prices will remain steady through the holiday weekend.

Those lower prices will serve Marylanders well this weekend, as those who are getting out of town are also traveling farther.

About 56 percent of Maryland travelers intend to travel between 50 and 400 miles roundtrip, compared to 43 percent last year. The average roundtrip mileage is 592 miles, a 23 percent increase over last year.

Many of those traveling will be single adults or couples. With kids back in school, families will account for just 27 percent of travelers, lower than the 36 percent of Fourth of July travelers they accounted for.