Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Americans face high gas prices, crowded roads this Memorial Day weekend

  • A record number of Americans are planning to travel this Memorial Day weekend, despite high gas prices.
  • Gas prices currently average $2.93 per gallon nationally and could climb this weekend.
  • There are certain days and times you may want to avoid the roads and airports in major U.S. cities. 
If you plan to hit the roads this Memorial Day weekend, get ready to pay more at the pump.
Gas prices are poised to be the highest for the holiday weekend since 2014, according to travel organization AAA. Those prices averaged $2.93 nationally per gallon as of Tuesday.

"Gas prices are nearly 60 cents more expensive than last year and will likely jump a few more pennies heading into Memorial Day weekend," said AAA spokeswoman Jeanette Casselano. "As nearly 37 million Americans travel by car this weekend, motorists will find gas for $3 or more at 25 percent of all gas stations across the country."

Those costs are not likely to deter many travelers, Casselano said, many of whom booked their trips months in advance.

A record number of Americans — more than 41.5 million — are expected to take to the roads, tarmacs and water on the weekend that kicks off summer, according to research released by AAA earlier this month.

That's the highest number of travelers in more than 12 years and about a 5 percent increase from last year.

The good news for travelers is that airfares have fallen 7 percent from last Memorial Day to an average of $168 for a round-trip flight for popular domestic routes, AAA said.
A daily car rental will cost an average of $59, about 11 percent cheaper than last year and the lowest rate in the past four years.

The busiest days for travel over the holiday weekend are expected to be this Thursday and Friday.
Here are the worst days and times to travel, according to global analytics company INRIX, which partnered with AAA for the study.

Worst times to travel

Metro area Worst day for travel Worst time for travel Delay multiplier of normal trip
Atlanta Thursday, May 24 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. 1.6x
Houston Thursday, May 24 4:30 - 6:00 p.m. 1.5x
Boston Thursday, May 24 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. 1.8x
Washington, D.C. Thursday, May 24 4:30 - 7:00 p.m. 2.3x
San Francisco Friday, May 25 3:00 - 5:30 p.m. 1.7x
Los Angeles Friday, May 25 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. 1.9x
New York Friday, May 25 3:30 - 6:30 p.m. 2.7x
Detroit Friday, May 25 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. 1.5x
Chicago Friday, May 25 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. 2.1x
Seattle Friday, May 25 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. 1.8x 

The report also looked at the top Memorial Day destinations based on advance travel bookings made through AAA.

Here are the cities that will get more crowded over the four-day weekend.

Top Memorial Day destinations

Rank City
1 Orlando, Florida
2 Seattle, Washington
3 Honolulu, Hawaii
4 Las Vegas, Nevada
5 Anchorage, Alaska
6 Phoenix, Arizona
7 Anaheim, California
8 Boston, Massachusetts
9 Denver, Colorado
10 New York, New York
The popularity of Seattle and Anchorage as destinations point to the popularity of Alaskan cruises, Johnson said.

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