Memorial Day Trends: Cheapest Travel Days, Most Popular Destinations

The unofficial start of the summer season, Memorial Day, is fast approaching. Despite record-high gas prices and the soaring cost of airfare, excitement is running high among Americans in 2022, since the pandemic severely limited their vacation options over the past two years.

New data released by metasearch engine Skyscanner has revealed some of the Memorial Day travel trends we can expect to witness this year, including the most popular destinations, trip pricing and the cheapest day to travel.


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“Savvy travelers are looking to enjoy the first Memorial Day Weekend in two years which will feel mostly normal, including for travel,” remarked Mark Crossey, a U.S. Traveler Expert at Skyscanner. “Of course, the domestic U.S. features heavily in bookings for Memorial Day, but we can see international favorites like London and Paris featuring higher in the top-booked destinations this year as Americans venture over the pond in large numbers again.”

That’s right, folks—overseas trips are finally an option again this summer! Skyscanner’s intel says the cheapest departure date for international travelers this Memorial Day period is Friday, May 27, while the most inexpensive day to depart on U.S. domestic trips will be Saturday, May 28.

Crossey offered a couple of tips for finding the best deals on travel, even at the eleventh hour. “A fantastic way to bag a last-minute deal and make the most of the long weekend is tagging on an extra day of leave if you can,” he said. “The cheapest day to travel is Friday, May 27th, and by departing on that date you’ll get four days off and enjoy travel on a cheaper, quieter day.”

“You don’t always need to go on the obvious route,” he continued. “Use Skyscanner’s Everywhere Search for destinations ordered by price and you might just discover a new favorite. Switching Cancun for Orlando could save over $400 per traveler, or Los Angeles for Miami to save over $260 per traveler (leaving from New York airports, as an example).”

The Orlando Eye, Florida
The Orlando Eye, Florida. (photo via BrazilPhoto/iStock Editorial/Getty Images Plus)

Other Key Insights on Memorial Day Travel Include:

— This doesn’t seem to be the moment Americans are taking their extended summer vacations. The majority of bookings (79 percent) for Memorial Day weekend trips are for getaways lasting one week or less.

— Europe is home to this Memorial Day’s top two long-haul destinations, with London taking the top spot, followed by Paris. But, the third most popular international destination is far closer to home in the capital city of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

— Orlando is the number-one most popular destination for the upcoming holiday weekend among families and groups; while New York City, Las Vegas and Cancun respectively claim first, second, and third place among individuals and couples.

— Of the top 10 most popular airports for departures, travelers flying out of Las Vegas are scoring the best deals on airfare, with the average price of a domestic Memorial Day Weekend trip coming in at $164.

— Travelers departing from Fort Lauderdale, however, are getting the best deals nationwide, as the average price of a ticket purchased over the past month was $169 (direct, return).

“Our top-searched destinations for Memorial Day weekend are the same as they might have appeared pre-pandemic, with traditional favorites holding onto the lion’s share of searches and bookings,” Crossey said. “While families are looking to have some fun on the beaches of Florida, couples still want to enjoy the thrill of Las Vegas or glamour of Los Angeles.