Study: Memorial Day weekend travel rose 48.5 percent over previous weekend

The number of trips of 250 miles or more also rose from mid-March

The five states that saw the highest increases in travel over Memorial Day weekend are Oregon, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Texas, according to research firm Arrivalist. The five with the least change were Deleware, New Jersey, North Dakota, Connecticut and Maryland.

TRAVEL OVER MEMORIAL Day weekend in the U.S., which had been expected to be down, saw an increase of 48.5 percent over the prior weekend, according to research firm Arrivalist. The results revealed a changing travel pattern post-COVID-19.

Arrivalist’s Daily Travel Index measured road trips in every state over the weekend and ranked them. It also listed the most popular destinations.

“The majority of road trips measured since COVID-19 began impacting travel in mid-March were 50 to 100 miles, with some of 100 to 250 miles,” said Matt Clement, Arrivalist’s vice president of marketing. “But, over Memorial Day weekend trips of more than 250 miles reached a level not seen since the spring break season in late February and early March.”

The top five states with the highest increase in travel over the weekend and their percentage of increase are:

  • Oregon (82.9 percent)
  • Missouri (79.7 percent)
  • Kansas (79.7 percent)
  • Arkansas (74.3 percent)
  • Texas (73.7 percent)

The bottom five states are:

  • Delaware (5.6 percent)
  • New Jersey (7.2 percent)
  • North Dakota (21.9 percent)
  • Connecticut (23.4 percent)
  • Maryland (25.3 percent)

Some remote destinations and areas saw significant increase in year over year activity while others saw little to no activity. Visits to Lake of the Ozark, for example, increased 18.2 percent. Remote attractions such as Mount Rushmore, Lake Tahoe, Lake Norman, Half Moon Bay, Lake Powell and Grand Tetons National Park returned to between 80 percent and 100 percent of their 2019 level of activity. Road trip activity to Napa Valley was up as well, the index said.

Some road trip attractions with a drop off in visits included Yosemite National Park, Williamsburg, Virginia, and the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

“We’re seeing a volume of road trip activity we haven’t seen since early before the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Cree Lawson, Arrivalist’s founder and CEO. “Travel patterns varied widely from place to place but the level of activity is reminiscent of previous spring break levels.”

Trips to beaches, a mainstay of Memorial Day road trips, varied from region to region.

South Padre Island in Texas had the most dramatic increase in visitation among beaches measured. Most popular beach destinations in the East, such as Myrtle Beach, the Jersey Shore and Daytona Beach, returned to 80 percent or more of their 2019 levels.

Travel advisor AAA did not release a forecast for Memorial Day weekend for the first time in 20 years of tracking holiday travel because it could not predict how the pandemic would affect travel.