Memorial Day deals send tourists to New York, other major cities
By Jay Keller
While beaches remain the top-of-mind for summer destinations, many frugal travelers this holiday weekend will opt for enticing deals to shop, tour historic cities and visit bustling cultural centers in urban areas.
Travelers this weekend will find lower airfares and gas prices but rooms will likely cost more.
Big cities will be the top destination for travelers over Memorial Day 2013, according priceline.com‘s 11th annual survey of the Top 50 destinations, which measures travel trends based on hotel bookings made using their service.
“Cooler than normal spring weather in many parts of the country could be prompting many Memorial Day travelers to choose a city trip over the beach,” said priceline.com spokesperson Brian Ek in a statement.
New York City is very popular this year as Big Apple neighborhoods appeared seven times in priceline.com rankings.
Other city neighborhoods appearing frequently in the top 50 were Boston (4 times), Washington, DC (4 times), San Francisco (4 times), Chicago (3 times) and Las Vegas (3 times).
The good news for travelers this year is that airfare prices are lower but the bad news – the average daily rate for a hotel booking is higher.
According to Travelocity’s Memorial Day booking data, domestic airfare is down two percent year-over-year with the average cost at $341, six dollars less than it was in 2012.
“While a two percent decrease in domestic airfare may not seem like much, in recent years we have seen average airfare prices steadily rise year-over-year during the holidays,” Travelocity’s Courtney Scott said in a company statement.
The average daily rate for a Memorial Day hotel booking is $157, according to Travelocity, an increase of nearly seven percent since last year, suggesting that the best deals will come by combining flight and hotel.
Travelocity combined the average airfare with average hotel daily rate to rank their list of popular destinations and found New York City to be the best combo buy with a plane ticket costing $307 and $278 for a room.
Other value cities were Orlando ($315 flight, $158 room) and the nation’s capital ($286 flight, $157 room).
Cars are still the most popular mode of transportation for leisure travel this Memorial Day, according to a survey of TripAdvisor customers, with 56 percent driving, 36 percent flying and about one in 10 opting for the railroad.
Most have put the previous year’s pain at the pump behind them and plan to drive between 50-200 miles this weekend.
Gas prices in 2011, which hovered around $3.96 per gallon, impacted the plans of about one in four travelers during the summer kickoff that year, according to TripAdvisor.
This year, thanks to the steady decline in the national average over the past two years, TripAdvisor says only one in 10 people remain concerned with the average price of $3.60 this past week.