More people are expected to hit the road this Memorial Day weekend despite record-high gas prices. Experts say this could be a sign a busy summer travel season is ahead.
AAA predicts nearly 2.2. million Floridians will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend. That’s an 8.3% increase over 2021.
“We are coming out of a 2-year-long pandemic, people are coming out of their homes more now than probably any other time before that. They are eager to get out and connect with their family and friends,” AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins said.
Jenkins says despite the pain at the pump, close to 90% of this weekend’s travelers are expected to drive.
“You kind of assume when gas prices increase, people might just decide to stay home, but that is not historically the case. Oftentimes, we see that people are wanting to travel,” Jenkins said. “They are eager to travel, but they make those concessions. Maybe they spend a little less on shopping, dining, maybe even stay in a lesser expensive hotel in order to offset the added expense of gasoline.”
The choice to drive could be, in part, due to rising airfare prices.
Airline fares shot up by 25%t in the last year, according to the Consumer Price Index. Prices spiked by 18% in April alone.
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“They have a shortage of pilots, they have a shortage of airplanes, and they have a shortage of ground crew,” Scott Keyes with Scott’s Cheap Flights said.
Keyes says the high price of oil is part of why airline tickets are up, but he says the bigger issue deals with supply and demand.
“They aren’t able to fly as many flights as they would like, and so you see with high demand and low supply, high fares being the end result,” Keyes said.
With Memorial Day weekend kicking off the summer travel season, Keyes says travelers looking to take a summer trip should think about booking soon.
He says the cheapest time to travel this summer could be early June or late August. This, he said, is because school systems have varying summer vacation schedules.
He also says you should book early because waiting most likely won’t get you a cheaper price.
“If you have been putting it off, don’t hold out hope that you are going to see the last minute miracle, in all likelihood, the fare is going to get more expensive, not cheaper,” Keyes said.
For anyone hitting the road, Jenkins suggests using an app to help you find the cheapest gas prices on your route. He also suggests drivers save money using loyalty programs and by cutting back on food expenses by packing snacks and water.