Despite rising gas prices, AAA predicts Memorial Day weekend to see huge increase in travelers

ST. GEORGE — Travel for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend is projected to rebound by 60% this year over last as pandemic fears lessen as more people get vaccinated and consumer confidence rises.

Gas pump, St. George, Utah, March 26, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

However, while travel increases overall, gas prices are also on the rise. As of this week, Utah remains among the top 10 most expensive states for gas, according to the AAA.

Memorial Day travel

The AAA reported Tuesday that over 37 million people will travel for the upcoming holiday weekend at the end of the month. From May 27 through May 31, it is anticipated that these holiday trekkers will travel 50 miles or more from home, which is an increase of 60% over 2020, which saw 23 million people travel for the holiday.

While the increase is encouraging, particularly for the tourism industry, it is still 6 million fewer than the pre-pandemic numbers of 2019, according to the AAA.

For those who plan to travel, the AAA still recommends they take measures to protect themselves and others as the pandemic continues.

“As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and consumer confidence grows, Americans are demonstrating a strong desire to travel this Memorial Day,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “This pent-up demand will result in a significant increase in Memorial Day travel, which is a strong indicator for summer, though we must all remember to continue taking important safety precautions.”

In this file photo is Southbound I-15 as seen from the St. George Boulevard/Exit 8 overpass, Utah, Feb. 12, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The Centers for Disease Center and Prevention has recently said people who are fully vaccinated and travel domestically are at low-risk for COVID-19, yet are still recommended to follow local and state restrictions that may remain in place at the locations they plan to visit. Non-vaccinated travelers are asked to continue social distancing, wear a mask and wash hands often.

Of the 37 millions people projected to travel for the holiday weekend, 34 million are estimated to do so in the form of road trips. This is nearly 12 million more than last year.

Among the top locations for road trips nationally are Las Vegas, Orlando and Denver.

AAA noted its predictions for holiday travel are subject to fluctuation as Memorial Day approaches.

Utah gas prices on the rise

While the recent cyber-attack on the Colonial gas pipeline on the East Coast isn’t anticipated to impact prices much beyond the Eastern and Southeastern United States, according to AAA, gas prices have continued to rise in general.

Utah sits at no. 7 on AAA’s list of the 10 largest weekly gas price increases as of Monday with a hike of 9 cents per gallon. Mississippi topped the list with a 15 cent increase per gallon. The cheapest state for gas currently is North Carolina at an average of $2.73.

A van carries travelers on a road trip into Arches National Park, Utah, date unspecified | Photo by Pexels from Pixabay, St. George News

The current national average for gas stands at $2.98 per gallon, while in Utah, the state average is $3.27 a gallon. The average in Washington County is at $3.33, while Iron County shows an average of $3.27.

People taking road trips for Memorial Day are likely to experience the most expensive gas prices since 2014 with the national average over $3 a gallon.

“We don’t expect higher gas prices to deter motorists this holiday season as many Americans are eager to travel,” Jeanette C. McGee, a AAA spokesperson said in a press release. “We typically find when pump prices increase, travelers look for more free activities or eat out less while on vacation, but still take their planned trips.”

For those who may not be traveling as far or simply want to conserve their gas use, the AAA recommends the following:

  • Plan ahead to accomplish multiple errands in one trip, and whenever possible avoid high-traffic times of day.
  • If you own more than one car, use the most fuel-efficient model that meets the needs of any given journey.
  • Remove unnecessary and bulky items from your car. Minimize your use of roof racks and remove special carriers when not in use. It takes more fuel to accelerate a heavier car, and the reduction in fuel economy is greater for small cars than for larger models.
  • Minimize your use of air conditioning. Even at highway speeds, open windows have less effect on fuel economy than the engine power required to operate the air conditioning compressor.
  • In hot weather, park in the shade or use a windshield sunscreen to lessen heat buildup inside the car. This reduces the need for air conditioning (and thus fuel) to cool down the car.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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