Memorial Day travel surge to be followed by silence

So, there are two visions of the near future: one immediate, the other a bit further out. For Memorial Day, expect to see plenty of traffic, thanks to a drop in gas prices, according to AAA. More than 10 percent of the country’s population – north of 32 million people – is expected to ht the road (though some will take planes). This stands in stark contrast to last year, when it cost $4 to put a gallon of gas in your car.

But, the fun will end when the summer starts.

An estimated 20 million fewer trips will be taken this summer compared to last year – which translates to $43 billion less in travel spending. According to a recent poll by AP-GfK, a third of Americans have already canceled at least one trip this year as a result of the ongoing financial calamity. Only 42 percent of us are going to take a leisure trip this year, down from 49 percent in a similar poll conducted in May 2005.

Apparently … brace yourself … income is a factor. Two-thirds of people making more than $100,000 a year are expected to take some kind of recreational trip this summer. If you make $50,000 to $100,000, the chances are around 50-50. Only a third of people making less than $50,000 a year are likely to hit the road (all incomes based on family, rather than individual).

Grim? It gets worse.

Twelve percent of those traveling are staying in their home states, with 67 percent venturing across state lines and only 19 percent leaving the country. Twenty percent are staying close to home for financial reasons, and 23 percent will save a few bucks by staying with friends or family.