Busy travel expected Memorial Day weekend

by Sarah Fay Campbell

By Sarah Fay Campbell sarah@newnan.com

This Memorial Day weekend travel season is expected to be the biggest since 2005, according to AAA.

AAA predicts that 36.1 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles during the travel period, which runs from Thursday to Monday. That’s a 1.5 percent increase from last year, the second highest number of travelers since 2000, and 2.6 percent higher than the 10-year historical average.

“A long and unusually harsh winter gave many Americans the travel bug,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Combine rising temperatures with signs of an improving economy, and travel for the holiday should hit a new post-recession high.”

Improvements in several key economic factors are driving the prediction, according to Jenkins. “Consumer spending, disposable income, consumer confidence and the employment outlook are trending up which is welcomed news for the travel industry,” he said.

Although more people will be traveling, 57 percent of travelers in the Southeast still need to finalize their travel plans, according to a recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey.

“Hotel and car rental reservations are filling up fast for Memorial Day," said Jessica Brady, spokeswoman for AAA Travel. "Now is the time to make your Memorial Day travel arrangements to ensure you get what you want for the price that fits your budget.”

In Georgia, there are expected to be 1 million holiday weekend travelers, with nearly all of them traveling by automobile.

Travelers will likely be seeing slightly lower gasoline prices by next weekend, thanks to rising supplies, according to AAA. The organization expects prices to be similar or slightly lower than last year’s national Memorial Day average of $3.63 though, of course, unexpected developments could push prices higher.

The national average fell two cents last week, according to Gas Buddy, and more price relief should be on the way. Refineries have completed their switch to summer blend gasoline, said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for Gas Buddy.

“The blend costs more to produce, but will likely no longer be the reason for rising prices,” DeHaan said. “This should help drive prices down in coming weeks as refineries boost production of summer gasoline and inventories rise.”

The Georgia state average price on Friday was $3.634, down from $3.658 a week according, according to AAA’s fuelgaugereport.com website.

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