Record Memorial Day Travel Expected Despite Surging Gas Prices

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Los Angeles Traffic Jam
Vehicles are seen during rush hour on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, California October 3, 2007. In Los Angeles, more than 67 percent of working adults drive alone to work, according to a survey of U.S. census data released Wednesday.

Despite record-high 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), gas prices reached a national average of $4.599 a gallon on Friday – just shy of the record high set on Thursday of $4.600.

As many as 39.2 million people are predicted to travel over Memorial Day weekend in what is considered the unofficial kickoff to summer, AAA said. This is an 8% increase over 2021.

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

But prices are 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 rental car rates are down 16%, but finding a car to rent is a challenge as vehicles are in high demand and scarce. 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 in, it is going to cost them at the pump no matter where they go. Gas prices are at an “unprecedented” level, AAA said, and are only expected to continue to rise in the coming summer months.

Those heading west to California will pay the most as gas prices in the state on average have reached $6.077 per gallon as of Friday. Most of the west has reached gas prices over $5 a gallon, with much of the upper east coast, nearing the $5 per gallon mark if they aren’t there already.

But Americans are ready to get out and travel despite the surging gas prices now that COVID restrictions have rolled back and vaccinations have been doled out to the masses.

Ragina Ali, spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, told the Washington Post, “I think this year, especially with vaccines being readily available and many people being vaccinated, many people have a desire to travel. Overwhelming, pent-up demand for people to resume some kind of normalcy seems to be outweighing the costs.”


Los Angeles Traffic Jam

Photo: Reuters

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