Record Travel Expected on Memorial Day Despite Rising Gas Prices

Despite record gas prices and inflation concerns, more Americans are expected to travel this Memorial Day weekend than last year after two years of COVID restrictions.

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), gasoline prices hit a national average of $4,599 a gallon on Friday, just shy of Thursday’s record of $4,600.

As many as 39.2 million people are expected to travel over Memorial Day weekend in what is seen as the unofficial start of summer, AAA said. This is an 8% increase from 2021.

Many Americans will hit the road by car and a 4.6% increase in trips is expected, AAA said. But this won’t be the only way people will experience the holiday weekend, with air travel expected to see 25% growth, and bus, train and cruise travel forecast to rise by 200%. AAA indicated.

But prices go up due to inflation. The average ticket price for the lowest airfare is $184, up 6% from 2021, AAA reported. Hotels are also charging more, with the average overnight stay costing $230 a night, a 42% increase for their lowest rate, according to the organization.

However, daily car rental rates are down 16%, but finding a car to rent is a challenge as vehicles are in high demand and in short supply. The lowest average rate to rent a car is $100 a day, AAA said.

If travelers can find a rental car to hit the road with, it will cost them at the pump no matter where they go. Gasoline prices are at an “unprecedented” level, AAA said, and are expected to continue rising in the coming summer months.

Those heading west toward California will pay more, as gas prices in the state averaged $6,077 a gallon as of Friday. Most of the West has hit gas prices of more than $5 a gallon, with much of the upper East Coast approaching the $5 a gallon mark if they aren’t there yet.

But Americans are ready to get out and travel despite rising gas prices now that COVID restrictions have been rolled back and vaccines have been distributed to the masses.

Ragina Ali, a spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, told the Washington Post, “I think this year, especially with the vaccines available and a lot of people vaccinated, a lot of people have a desire to travel. The overwhelming and pent-up demand for people to return to some kind of normality appears to be outweighing the costs.”

Photo: Reuters

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