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Travel Increase Predicted for Memorial Day 2012

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The number of Memorial Day vacationers to travel more than 50 miles from home is expected to increase by 1.2 percent in 2012, according to an annual survey from the automobile group AAA.

As is typical, the number of people expected to travel by car far outnumbers those expected to travel by plane. More than 30 million people will get to their destinations by car, while roughly 2.5 million will get there by air.

Eighty-eight percent of holiday voyagers will travel by car; 7 percent by air and the remainder by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.

The total increase in travelers comes from drivers, at a rate of 1.2 percent. The number of people traveling by air is expected to decline 5.5 percent from last year's 2.7 million air travelers.

More than half of the survey's respondents said gas prices would not affect their Memorial Day holiday travel plans. However, the average travel distance is considerably less this year than in 2011. The average distance vacationers will travel will be 642 miles, which is 150 miles less than last year's average travel distance of 792 miles.

This is despite gas prices being, on average, 25 cents per gallon cheaper than this time last year, according to the AAA.

TripAdvisor, which ran its own Memorial Day travel survey, found a larger increase in the expected Memorial Day travelers: An 8 percent increase compared with 2011. The site also found that respondents weren't letting gas prices affect their summer vacations.

It's not only gas prices that are on the decline: AAA reports weekend daily car rental rates will average $36, which is 4 percent, or $2, less than last year.

Hotel rates, though, are expected to climb between 8 and 10 percent compared with last year.

The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 24, to Monday, May 28.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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