Memorial Day travel is up despite high gas prices, inflation

travel is up
Posted at 1:02 PM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-30 17:30:50-04

NORFOLK, Va. – Despite record-high gas prices and rising inflation, many people are hitting the road or taking to the skies this Memorial Day.

AAA estimates 39.2 million people in the U.S. will travel 50 miles or more from home during the holiday weekend. That includes travel by cars, planes, trains, or cruise ships.

Travel is up 8.3% from 2021 but still below pre-pandemic 2019 levels.

According to AAA, about 88% of the record-number 39.2 million travelers are expected to travel by car over the long weekend, even as gas prices remain high.

“They suck, the gas prices,” said Trayna Adams of Norfolk. “We chose to scooter here and walk here instead of driving to breakfast, brunch.”

Adams’ friend Kyla Smith is one of 30-million people driving to their destination over the long weekend, according to AAA.

Smith drove in from Charlotte, N.C. as gas prices in Virginia average $4.45 for a gallon of regular. That’s up nearly 15 cents from two weeks ago.

“Even though it’s still pretty expensive, I’d say it’s still worth it to come up and do something for the weekend,” Smith said.

Others are choosing to stay closer to home.

Jimmy Phillips of Poquoson said he’d typically be out on his boat fishing in North Carolina this holiday weekend, but not this year.

“The price of fuel on boats is so expensive,” he said. “Fuel is outrageous right now.”

AAA predicted 1.3 million people would be on a bus, train or taking a cruise this weekend.

Jimmy Phillips’s daughter stepped off the ship at Nauticus in Norfolk Monday afternoon. She celebrated her bachelorette with her bridesmaids, mom and grandma.

“Wonderful,” said Georganna Cross of Poquoson. “It was great. Too short but it was great.”

Cross, who’s also a travel agent at GG Travels said bookings are up even with a surge in COVID cases.

“I think people are ready now,” she said. “There’s still a lot of people that are leery about it but there’s more people that want to get out and enjoy life.”

Cross said she’s been traveling a lot and taking a lot of cruises to other countries since last summer.

“Get out there and travel,” she said. “It’s a big world with lots to see. Don’t sit at home and be afraid to live.”

Despite soaring airfare, flights are up by 25% compared to last year. AAA expected more than three million people to hit the skies this weekend alone.

But be prepared to possibly deal with airline delays and cancellations that’s been seen across the country recently because of weather and staffing shortages.

“Just have patience,” said Georgette Phillips of Carrollton. “Everyone is trying to work as hard as they can, but things happen.”

Georgette Phillips is also a travel agent. To avoid any headaches, she says make sure to monitor your flight and get to the airport early.

Travel agents expect travel to keep ticking up heading into the summer, which could also mean more delays and packing more patience.

Related: Flight cancellations pile up on busy Memorial Day Weekend