AAA Carolinas predicts rise in Labor Day travel

CHARLOTTE, NC (AAA) – Gas prices have fallen across the state in August helping lead AAA Carolinas to forecast an 7.7 percent increase in Labor Day travel.

An estimated 32,000 more motorists are expected to vacation more than 50 miles from home this holiday than last year. All estimates on this release are based on numbers that do not account for Hurricane Earl.

Travelers heading to the coast this weekend should pay close attention to forecasts, warnings and evacuations prior to hitting the road.

South Carolina prices average $2.43 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline, down 13 cents from the summer peak on Aug. 10, and 18 cents lower than Memorial Day gasoline prices. Retail gasoline prices typically do not drop until after Labor Day.

Approximately 452,000 South Carolinians are expected to travel during the long holiday weekend, despite continued high unemployment and economic uncertainty.

"Travel by Carolinians has been increasing all year and this holds true for the last vacation of the summer," said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas.

AAA Carolinas has seen a 26 percent rise in travel bookings and a 9.5 percent increase in requested personalized TripTik® map routings.

Falling gas prices, numerous hotel and travel package deals, and the last hurrah for summer vacation are contributing to 92 percent of travelers, or 420,000 people, driving to their Labor Day holiday destination.

Air travel will rise despite higher airfares. AAA forecasts a 2.4 percent increase representing 18,000 South Carolinians flying over the long weekend.  AAA's Leisure Travel Index reports the lowest round-trip rates moving up nine percent from last year to $179 for the top 40 U.S. air routes. Travelers flying to destinations along the east coast should check their flight status before leaving for the airport.  Tropical weather may impact flight routes.

AAA also recommends checking with your hotel for local updates on the storm's impact.

The remaining 3 percent, or 14,000 travelers, will journey by bus, train or boat, according to surveys prepared by IHS Global Insight on behalf of AAA.

The average gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in South Carolina is $2.44, down 2 cents from a week ago and only 8 cents higher than this time last year.  The most expensive gasoline in the state is in Charleston at $2.48 and the least expensive is in Spartanburg at $2.39.

The most popular destinations for motorists: Atlanta, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Asheville, Raleigh, Savannah and Washington D.C., according to AAA Vacations, which tracks hotel bookings and TripTik routings.

"Hotels in these and other destinations continue to offer discounts and specials to ensure rooms are filled," said Parsons.

Motorists taking a trip can budget estimated gas costs for their personal vehicles on By entering origin, destination, make and model of their vehicle, motorists receive the estimated gasoline cost for their trip.

AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 1.8 million members with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all motorists.