AAA expects an estimated 37 million Americans to travel during the long Memorial Day weekend and Nashville is among the top five destinations for those planning road trips.
The auto club’s travel bookings and TripTik road trip searches indicate Nashville ranks fifth, behind Denver, Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Orlando, respectively.
The No. 1 road trip destination during the Memorial Day weekend? Las Vegas.
The anticipated surge in travel comes at a time when half of all adults in the United States have been vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Memorial Day weekend travel fell in 2020 during the pandemic, as Americans grappled with unprecedented closures and restrictions across the nation and health leaders struggled to slow the rapidly spreading virus.
Now, with COVID-19 fears declining, hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues are relaxing restrictions and re-opening, in some cases, to full capacity.
Cabin fever has turned into travel fever.
“As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and consumer confidence grows, Americans are demonstrating a strong desire to travel this Memorial Day,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “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.”
To some travelers, staying safe means hitting the road instead of hopping a flight. Some 34 million travelers will choose road trips while just 2.5 million Americans will fly, according to AAA. Masks mandates remain in place for all commercial airlines and airports.
For buses and trains, the number of travelers remains low with less than 240,000 people opting for those modes of transportation during the holiday. Mask requirements for buses and rail lines have been extended through mid-September, according to the Federal Transportation Security Administration.
Nashville lifted its mask mandate earlier this month, and tourists have been returning to downtown.
To ease holiday road congestion, beginning at noon today through 6 a.m. Tuesday, June 1, the Tennessee Department of Transportation will suspend all construction-related lane closures on interstates and state routes.
Motorists can get real-time traffic activity with TDOT’s SmartWay traffic cameras. Travelers can also dial 511 for travel information.