POSTED: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 1:30pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 2:18pm
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Drivers are expected to encounter jam-packed highways during the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend, according to a survey released Tuesday by AAA
Approximately 30.7 million Americans plan to drive to their destination this year, an increase of more than 500,000 travelers on the road compared to 2011, according to the organization, which provides roadside and travel services.
However, people won't be traveling as far as they have in previous years to see their family and friends, the survey found. High gas prices and tight budgets are forcing travelers to rethink their trips.
The average distance of travel this year is expected to be 642 miles, 150 miles less than last year's Memorial Day holiday, according to AAA.
"Steadily increasing gas prices throughout the spring significantly squeezed many household budgets," AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet said in a statement.
While most survey respondents said increased fuel prices won't impact their decisions, 47% said they'll handle the high gas prices by cutting other costs so they can still make their trip. Those who intend to economize plan to reduce entertainment costs, stay at less expensive hotels or stay with friends.
But even if plans include crashing on a cousin's couch to save cash, the average cost of the trip is estimated to be higher this year. The survey's median cost of the holiday weekend is $702, a slight increase over last year's $692.
The dominant mode of transportation for people will be by automobile. Nine out of 10 travelers will go by car. Only 7% of survey respondents plan to fly to their destinations this year, a decrease of 5% from 2011. The rest of the holiday travelers will go by rail, bus and boat.
The annual survey considers those traveling 50 miles or more between May 24 and May 28 as holiday travelers.