TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — If you’re planning a Memorial Day getaway, AAA is urging travelers to make travel plans now.

AAA Travel booking data shows that reservations for flights, rental cars, cruises and hotels for Memorial Day have more than doubled from last year.

Higher demand means higher prices.

When it comes to Memorial Day weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday), flights are about $160 more than last year, according to AAA.

AAA experts predict the higher demand will continue into the summer travel season.

“There’s a lot of pent-up demand there that is about to be unleashed this summer,” said AAA Spokesperson Mark Jenkins.

Travelers at Tampa International Wednesday said they are already feeling the pinch.

“Last year I think we both flew for less than $200. This year it was a little over 400. A really huge increase,” said Annette Rader. The price increase didn’t stop her and her family from traveling to Florida. Instead they’re finding other ways to cut expenses.

“Despite inflation and higher gas prices, people still want to travel,” said Jenkins.

AAA Airfares – Best (and Worst) Time to Book for Memorial Day

AAA booking data shows the best time to purchase airfare is about two weeks before Memorial Day, with travelers paying an average of $445 per ticket. However, those travelers who wait to book the week of Memorial Day could end up paying almost twice as much. Flights reserved 28 – 60 days ahead of the holiday are averaging $470 each.

The most popular air travel day is Friday. Memorial Day is the lightest. In past years, the cheapest day to fly for Memorial Day weekend was consistently Saturday. This year, however, Saturday is the most expensive day to fly. Sunday offers the lowest airfare followed by Friday (an average price of $543 and $596, respectively).

“Considering the strong demand for travel this year, the best advice is to book your Memorial Day flights early,” said Jenkins. “While you may pay a little more money up front, you will have more flight options to choose from than those who wait until a couple of weeks before the holiday.”

AAA also offers travelers the following advice:

  • Be Flexible – where and when you travel – fly on off-peak times/days, pick a hidden gem closer to home or opt to stay at an all-inclusive resort with plenty of on-site activities. This limits the need for a rental car and paying a la carte for entertainment and dining.
  • Book early – flights, hotels, tours, cruises, car rentals – the earlier the better to lock in the best rate and make sure to ask about discounts for pre-paying. Something else a travel agent can help navigate.
  • Travel with your bubble – small group travel rose in popularity during the pandemic when many opted to vacation with people they were in close contact with. Consider taking a group trip to divvy up costs for things like activities and accommodations. If everyone is spread out, a travel agent can help manage the logistics.
  • Protect your investment – a key step to planning your trip is to purchase travel insurance. This provides a safety net should something unexpected happen ahead of or during your trip. This is another example of where a travel agent is useful. They know you, your trip, your budget and your specific needs and can walk you through what travel insurance policy makes the most sense.