Memorial Day will be back in a big way a year after coronavirus lockdowns saw a startlingly quiet start to the summer.
More than 37.1 million Americans are expected to hit the road and take to the skies this weekend – a 60 percent increase from the only 23.1 million people who ventured more than 50 miles from home for the holiday in 2020, according to transportation analytics firm Inrix and AAA.
Road travel is expected to be king in 2021, according to firms’ research, which predicts 34.4 million of the 37.1 million travelers will drive – up from 22.6 million last year.
In total, 2.5 million people are expected to fly, which would be six times the amount of 2020, when 363,000 people passed through airports.
About 237,000 Americans are expected to travel by other modes, including bus and train, which would be the second-lowest volume on record by beating out the 185,000 travelers in 2020.
If the predictions are correct, Memorial Day will continue a nationwide uptick in travelers each holiday since the pandemic forced stay-at-home orders.
Last year, most Americans didn’t travel more than 10 miles.
More than 37.1 million Americans are expected to hit the road and take to the skies this Memorial Day weekend – a 60 percent increase from the only 23.1 million people who ventured more than 50 miles from home for the holiday in 2020
Beaches like the ones shown above in Santa Monica were empty last Memorial Day but are expected to see an influx in visitors this year as America emerges from the pandemic
Estimates and numbers compiled by AAA and Inrix
The overall expected bump over last year’s holiday travel numbers is still about 13 percent less – or nearly 6 million people less – than pre-pandemic conditions in 2019, according to AAA and Inrix.
Memorial Day road trips are expected to be down from the 37.6 million road trips in 2019, flights down from 3.2 million, and bus and train trips down from 1.9 million.
Top Memorial Day destinations for 2021
The COVID-19 vaccine – which President Joe Biden said has been administered to more than 50 percent of the country’s adults – is the biggest reason for the expected bump in travel this year, according to Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel.
‘As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and consumer confidence grows, Americans are demonstrating a strong desire to travel this Memorial Day,’ Twidale said.
‘This pent-up demand will result in a significant increase in Memorial Day travel, which is a strong indicator for summer, though we must all remember to continue taking important safety precautions.’
Mark Burfeind of Inrix, which studies transportation analytics, said he expects the highest volume on the roads to be mid-to-late afternoon, so he said it’s best for drivers to head out no later than lunchtime to beat the traffic.
Travel is possible in 2021, in large part, because of the coronavirus vaccine.
More than half of American adults are fully vaccinated, per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and about 62 percent more have had their first dose.
While vaccination rates vary greatly by state, 25 states and the District of Columbia have fully vaccinated at least half of their adult populations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recently said fully vaccinated people can travel domestically at ‘low risk’ to themselves, while taking proper precautions.
For those who aren’t vaccinated but choose to travel, CDC recommends practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands and getting tested before and after travel.
Masks are still required on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation in US as well as transportation hubs such as airports and train stations.
While last year’s Memorial Day weekend was unseasonably quiet, it did see a spark in movement to levels not seen since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Cellphone data from Apple‘s COVID-19 mobility trends report showed that the number of people out driving across the US increased by more than 25 percent on the Saturday alone.
The number of people out walking also increased on the Saturday to levels not seen since mid-March when stay-at-home orders were put in place across most of the country.
In some states – like Missouri and Mississippi – the levels of driving at the weekend increased to levels not seen since January 2020.
In comparison, the number of people driving and walking around dropped nearly 70 percent at the peak of the pandemic in early April 2020. The data shows a gradual increase of people moving around since then.
It came as all 50 states began to at least partially lift lockdown measures that were introduced to stop the spread of coronavirus, raising fears among some health officials that such increases in mobility has the potential to result in a second wave of outbreaks.
But this year – when many states don’t have restrictions at all and the restrictions in others are scant – those fears are no longer present thanks to high vaccination rates.
While last year’s Memorial Day weekend was unseasonably quiet, it did see a spark in movement to levels not seen since the pandemic began in March 2020. Cellphone data from Apple ‘s COVID-19 mobility trends report showed that the number of people out driving across the US increased by more than 25 percent on the Saturday alone
Different cellphone mobility tracking data compiled by Cuebiq showed that a cluster of southern US states are the areas that saw the most movement among its residents over the Memorial Day weekend in 2020. An analysis of that data showed that the top 10 states with the most movement over the weekend were neighboring areas mostly in the South