COLUMBUS — Ohioans are planning longer, more expensive trips this Labor Day weekend, according to AAA Ohio travel booking data.
While the number of Ohioans booking Labor Day weekend trips is flat compared to 2015 — an estimated 1.5 million of the state’s residents traveled last holiday weekend — travelers plan to spend more time and money wrapping up the summer travel season.
The five-day holiday period began Thursday and will run through Monday. Ohio travelers will be soaking up every bit of this holiday period, and many plan on taking longer trips. Ohioans’ average Labor Day trip length is 5.3 days, which is up from last year’s average of 4.6 days.
Ohioans are also planning more expensive Labor Day trips. Based on the average spend per booking, travelers are spending roughly 26 percent more in 2016 compared to the 2015 holiday period.
Road trips remain popular over the holiday weekend, as many Ohioans have booked getaways to in-state destinations such as Hocking Hills, Lake Erie Shores and Islands and Amish Country.
Others are using the extended weekend to take longer trips. The most popular Labor Day weekend out-of-state and international destinations for Ohio travelers include:
• Orlando, Florida
• San Francisco
• New York
• Las Vegas
• Cancun, Mexico
• Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Low gas prices continue to make road trips, and travel in general, more affordable. Nationally, AAA predicts the lowest Labor Day weekend gas price average since 2004. Last year on Labor Day, gas prices averaged $2.40 a gallon nationally and $2.18 a gallon in Ohio. GasBuddy.com predicts the cost for a gallon of regular unleaded gas will average $2.19 nationally during the holiday weekend.
Labor Day weekend wraps up the cheapest summer at the pump in 12 years, with motorists saving $18.9 billion over last summer, according to GasBuddy.
As driving ramps up over the holiday weekend, the Lima Allen County Safe Community Coalition is reminding motorists to “Drive Sober or Get Pulled over.” According to a news release, local law enforcement, as well as its state and national partners, “will be out in full force over the holiday weekend to enforce impaired driving laws.”
Across the nation, during the 2014 Labor Day weekend, almost half of all fatalities involved one or more impaired drivers, and nearly 200 people died.
“We can prevent even one more person from dying, or being seriously injured, in an impaired driving crash,” said Evelyn Smith, project director for Safe Communities, in a news release. “Impaired driving crashes are not accidents; someone chose to drive impaired. They are 100 percent preventable. It is up to all of us to choose to make our roads safer. If you choose to drink, choose not to drive.”
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima