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AAA forecasts a Memorial Day travel rebound for Denver

More than 37 million Americans plan to travel over the holiday weekend – a 60% increase over 2020 – most plan to hit the roads.

COLORADO, USA — Air travel, hotel and car rental bookings are heating up heading into the Memorial Day holiday and the summer travel season – with Denver ranking as the nation's fourth most popular road trip destination, according to AAA Travel

Nearly 692,000 Coloradans are planning to travel – a majority of those travelers, 642,000 of them, said they will take to the roads, AAA said in a news release Monday.  

AAA said travel bookings have recently surged for travelers set on visiting the Centennial state – AAA data showed Denver as the nation's fourth-most popular road trip destination. Colorado Springs is the fifth-most popular spot for hotel, airfare and car rentals. 

"A year's worth of pent-up demand is being unleashed this summer, as Americans anticipate the kick-off to the season," said Debbie Haas, vice president of Travel for AAA - The Auto Club Group. "For many people, this will be their first summer vacation in two years, and things will look a little different."

Haas said because of the pandemic, theme parks and hotels are running at reduced capacity, with some services unavailable to travelers. Cruise lines have changed their booking procedures based on passenger vaccination requirements. 

"That's why we encourage travelers to plan ahead and work with a trusted travel adviser, to ensure they get the best advice and value for their vacation," Haas said. 

Nine out of 10 Americans with travel plans said they will drive to their destinations in 2021, according to AAA. 

> Above video: DIA traveler numbers much higher now vs. one year ago.

Travel tips from AAA

  • Expect travel delays before the holiday weekend, especially in major metro areas like Denver where afternoon commuters are returning to the roads.
  • Avoid evening commute times, plan alternate routes. 
  • Prepare for increased gas prices, with the national average nearing $3 per gallon. 
  • Plan your route in advance and make sure your car is road-trip ready. 
  • Expect to make reservations for hotel rooms, rental cars and restaurants. 

The CDC still recommends for travelers who are not vaccinated to social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands and get tested before and after travel.