More Memorial Day Travel Expected, Despite High Gas Prices | California News


By STEFANIE DAZIO, CHRISTOPHER WEBER and TERRY TANG, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — To drive, or not to drive? This Memorial Day weekend, with surging gas prices that are redefining pain at the pump, that is the question for many Americans as a new COVID-19 surge also spreads across the country.

For Marvin Harper, of Phoenix, his family’s weekend travel plans are a double punch to the wallet. His college-age son and daughter each have a soccer tournament in Southern California and Colorado, respectively. He and his daughter will fly to Denver, rather than drive, because of the cost of fuel, while his wife and son will go to California in her SUV.

“My mother-in-law’s going with my wife and son to split that cost because it’s just too much on our household,” said Harper, as he filled up the tank of his truck at a Phoenix QuikTrip. “We can’t afford both of us to drive. That’s the bottom line … Gas prices are killing our household.”

For some, that’s exactly what’s caused them to rethink their holiday plans, making them opt for a staycation in their backyard to limit the damage to their wallets.

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Laura Dena and her sons would typically go to Southern California around Memorial Day weekend to escape Arizona’s scorching heat. This year, because it takes at least $100 to fill up her truck, they’re staying home.

“It’s really frustrating,” said Dena while waiting in line in 90-degree heat for a pump at a Costco in Phoenix. “It’s upsetting, but there’s not much we can do. We have to pay the price.”

The average gas price in the U.S. on Thursday was $4.60 per gallon, according to AAA figures. In California, it topped $6. The high price of oil — largely because many buyers are refusing to purchase Russian oil because of its invasion of Ukraine — is the main cause of the steep gasoline prices.

Rising prices coincide with a COVID-19 surge that has led to case counts that are as high as they’ve been since mid-February, and those figures are likely a major undercount because of unreported positive home test results and asymptomatic infections.

Still, 2 1/2 years of pandemic life has many people hitting the road or taking to the skies, despite the surge. AAA estimates that 39.2 million people in the U.S. will travel 50 miles (80 kilometers) or more from home during the holiday weekend.

Those projections —- which include travel by car, plane and other modes of transportation like trains or cruise ships — are up 8.3% from 2021 and would bring Memorial Day travel volumes close to 2017 levels. The estimates are still below pre-pandemic 2019 levels, a peak year for travel.

About 88% of those 39.2 million travelers — a record number — are expected to go by car over the long weekend even as gas prices remain high, according to AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross.

In California — despite being home to the nation’s highest gas prices — the state’s nonprofit tourism agency also predicts a busy summer for the Golden State, beginning this weekend.

Ryan Becker, Visit California’s spokesperson, said his agency is seeing a lot of “pent-up demand” because of the pandemic: “I want to get out, I want to travel. I’ve had to put my anniversary trip on hold, I’ve had to put my 40th birthday trip on hold.”

Outdoorsy, an online rental marketplace for RVs and camper vans, is noticing that its renters have changed their plans over the course of the pandemic. Early on, people would rent an RV to travel cross-country safely to visit family. Now, they’re back to using the RVs as a cost-effective way for a vacation tethered to nature.

“I think everyone needs a vacation, I really do,” Outdoorsy co-founder Jen Young said. “Have we ever lived through a more stressful, challenging — mentally and physically and spiritually — time in our lives?”

Others shrug off the stress of the added travel costs because it’s out of their control. At a Chevron station in the Glassell Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, Ricardo Estrada tried to guess how much the $6.49 a gallon price would run him in total for his Nissan work van.

“I’ll go with between 60 and 70 bucks,” the heating and air-conditioning technician speculated, eyeing the display as the price went up and up.

Estrada — just missing his guess when the pump registered $71.61 for 11 gallons of regular grade — has been forced to raise his business fees for customers to overcome the gas prices. He’ll be working over the holiday weekend but has a vacation planned in Arizona next month.

He’s flying, but only because of convenience, not cost.

But with airline tickets prices up, too — AAA found that the average lowest airfare for this weekend is 6% higher than last year — that’s not a sure bet, either.

Tang reported from Phoenix. Associated Press video journalist Terry Chea in San Francisco contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Travel tips for Memorial Day weekend: What to expect from traffic to gas prices and safety advice


Memorial Day weekend is a popular time for travel, whether it be an early summer vacation or simply a chance to visit with family.

Before you join the many who are planning on traveling this weekend, here’s a rundown of some of the things you can expect on the road, or in the air, this year.

In short: it will be more crowded and more expensive. So it might help to have some plans in place!

Higher numbers of travelers

Pent-up demand for travel during the COVID-19 pandemic means that people are definitely going to be out in force this year. The number of travelers will be high, particularly in comparison to the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, but also in comparison to pre-pandemic trends.

“For this year, AAA is predicting about a 39.2 million people to travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend,” said Doni Spiegel, public relations manager for AAA Central Penn. “That is up 8.3 percent over last year, and almost in line with pre-pandemic numbers.”

According to a press release from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, an estimated 2.2 million drivers will be using the Turnpike over the Memorial Day weekend – an increase of nearly 300,000 from last year. It’s also an increase of three percent compared to 2019′s pre-pandemic numbers.

And those increases aren’t just found on the roads. Flying is also seeing a boom, with estimates close to, or above, pre-pandemic numbers.

“Air travel volume, which began to rally last Thanksgiving, will hit levels just shy of 2019, with 3 million people expected to take to the skies this Memorial Day weekend,” Spiegel said. “And is it due to surpass 2019 levels, with 7.7 percent of travelers choosing air travel as their preferred mode, when in 2019 it was 7.5 percent of people that flew.”

There are 107 departing flights scheduled from Harrisburg International Airport this weekend, according to HIA spokesperson Scott Miller. That’s up from last year’s 94 flights over the same time.

“The other piece of this puzzle is, how full will these airplanes be?” Miller said. “So far this year, we have averaged 88 percent full. Last year in May, it was 80 percent or 81 [percent].”

Miller said that the airport expects 7,900 departing passengers to pass through HIA this year, a 30 percent increase from last year’s 5,700.

“The reason for that is, last year at this time, we were still coming off [COVID-19] restrictions,” he said. “Not everything was open. Now, nationwide, things are open, there are fewer mask mandates, fewer restrictions. Travel is definitely coming back. This will put us at about 90 percent of where we were back in 2019.”

Gas prices going up

And all of those increases will be despite the record-high prices of fuel.

This interactive map tool from AAA can display the average of gas prices for each state in the nation. As of the writing of this story, Pennsylvania’s average price is $4.77 per gallon – higher than the national average of $4.59. And demand is only going to make prices go up.

“Tighter supply and increased demand have pushed pump prices higher,” said AAA in a previous story on PennLive. “This supply/demand dynamic, combined with volatile crude prices, will likely continue to keep upward pressure on pump prices.”

Those same fuel costs affect airline prices, Miller said, but more slowly.

“It doesn’t happen right away, but it does happen,” he said. “It’s unlike the gas station, where we see prices jump from $4.50 to $4.75 overnight. It’s harder to raise air fares that way, because air fares are all based on demand.”

And the closer you get to the day of departure, Miller said, the more those prices are going to rise.

“Flights, car rentals, accommodations, tours, cruises and other activities are in high demand right now, and availability will fill up,” Spiegel said.

Safety precautions

With the increases in numbers of drivers and vehicles on the road, it’s logical to assume that some of the dangers in driving would increase as well.

Ironically, PennDOT statistics from 2020 and 2021 reveal that, even when fewer cars were on the roads, there were more vehicle-related deaths during the pandemic than in the year preceding it.

“There were actually fewer crashes,” said Jennifer Kuntch, spokesperson for PennDOT. “But there were more fatalities. It’s hard to say why exactly that was happening. We can point to the data. We can tell you that there were more unbelted fatalities, we can tell you there were more impaired fatalities or more distracted driving fatalities. There were definitely more aggressive driving fatalities – and aggressive driving includes speeding, or careless lane changes, and things like that.”

In response, several agencies, including PennDOT, the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Pennsylvania State Police, have issued reminders about the obligation that drivers have to keep both themselves and others safe.

“We just want everyone to kind of take take stock of the safety behind the wheel,” Kuntch said. “You know, it’s all of our responsibility.”

Mark Compton, Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO, cautioned drivers to be prepared for that additional traffic by paying even closer attention to driving safely.

“A moment’s distraction can have devastating consequences,” Compton said in a press release. “Put your phone down, watch your speed and pay attention to what is happening on the roadway.”

The same press release quoted Corporal Matthew Johnston of the Pennsylvania State Police, who said, “with Memorial Day weekend upon us and a surge in holiday traffic anticipated, we echo the reminder to motorists of the importance of safe driving habits.”

State police barracks such as Troop L in Berks, Lebanon and Schuylkill counties, have issued statements announcing their intent to crack down on impaired, distracted or aggressive driving this weekend, as well as on seatbelt usage and speeding.

Planning is everything

This advice might come a bit late for those who haven’t set their travel plans in stone already. But for both flying and driving, the sooner you start planning a trip, the better.

“If I’m looking to buy an airline ticket, there’s always fluctuation,” Miller said. “It’s like a stock price. Stock prices go up and down all the time. So do airfares. So if you find a fare you think is fair and reasonable, book it. It’s going to go up the closer you get [to the date of departure].”

Miller advises that, if you’re flying, you’ll want to arrive early. And the earlier your flight departs, the more time you want to give yourself. In addition to increased numbers of travelers, like many other industries, airports are having a harder time hiring staff members. And that can mean even more delays going through TSA inspections.

“If you’re flying before 7 a.m., be here two hours early,” Miller said. “The days of showing up 45 minutes or an hour before your departure, like you could do doing the pandemic, and breezing through security? Those days are over, especially if you’re traveling you know before 7 a.m.”

The further out you can buy tickets, the better, he said, with the ideal window being between 30 and 45 days before your flight to lock in the best price. But if you’re going last minute, you can at least try to pick the best days to fly.

“We found that the average lowest airfare is 6 percent more than it was last year,” Spiegel said, “with Saturday being the most expensive day to fly, and Monday being the least expensive day.”

For driving, planning is also helpful. Spiegel said that driving with windows down is cheaper than using air conditioning, despite the debates to the contrary about wind resistance. It also helps to double-check your plans for accommodations in advance, to ensure you’re not scrambling when you arrive at your destination. And planning a route in advance can also save both time and money.

For those hoping to plan a driving route, Kuntch recommended PennDOT’s new 511pa.com website. Among its features are maps from previous years, which show when and where traffic tended to pile up.

And it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on the weather, either. It’s no fun driving into a thunderstorm, but flying into a thunderstorm isn’t even an option.

“A bad thunderstorm in Chicago or Dallas or Atlanta can really screw up the national airline system,” Miller said. “So come prepared for a delay if you have if you have a connecting flight.”



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Memorial Day weekend 2022: Here are some fuel saving tips as gas nears $5 a gallon in Philadelphia region


PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Gas prices continue to inch closer to $5 a gallon throughout the region.

Drivers are being forced to become resourceful and find ways to minimize the pain at the pump.

According to AAA, the average price of gas across the Philadelphia five-county region is now at $4.88 a gallon.

Here are some ways you can save.

AAA recommends that people take advantage of fuel rewards and discount programs. For instance, Wawa is offering a 15 cents per gallon discount if you pay using their mobile app now through June 12.
Grocery store chains like Giant offer a 10 cent discount for every $100 spent in their stores.

Gas companies also have rewards programs.

Exxon offers 3 cents off a gallon. Citgo offers 3 cents off per gallon with additional discounts on Tuesdays and Fridays. Sunoco also offers 3 cents off per gallon.

According to experts, staying on top of vehicle maintenance is key when it comes to savings.

Regular service will prolong fuel economy and your car’s performance.
Another big tip is to not let your car idle. Experts say most cars perform a lot better when you get in and start driving them.

While it’s always important to drive safely, AAA says studies have shown that personal driving habits are one of the biggest factors that affect fuel consumption.

It’s best to drive the speed limit, avoid quick acceleration and to take your foot off the gas early when approaching a stop. That way your car can coast before you brake.

Cruise control is another great option to save on gas, and get rid of any accessories on your vehicle.

Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.





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High gas prices not stopping holiday travel


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — At this point, we’ve all probably realized we’re paying more at the pump. However, AAA told KSHB 41 News although prices are higher this year than they were last year, people are still going on their Memorial Day weekend trips.

“AAA is still expecting more Americans to travel for this Memorial Day holiday than last year, and this puts us pretty close to where we were in 2019, in terms of travel figure just prior to the pandemic,” Nick Chabarria, spokesperson for AAA Missouri, said.

Chabarria said people are likely feeling much more comfortable taking trips this year, especially since COVID restrictions were lifted.

And, they might not even care about how much gas is; they just want to travel.

“If they want to travel, they still will and they’ll find ways to save money in their trip elsewhere, and that may be eating out less while on vacation or finding more economic accommodations,” Chabarria said.

Gas prices are just under $4 a gallon in Kansas City, compared to around $2.75-2.85 this time last year.

However, our area still has some of the cheapest gas prices in the country. The national average is $4.59.

Before you hit the road for the holiday, AAA has a gas cost calculator on its website. You enter a starting and an ending destination, your vehicle make and model and it will average out what it’ll cost to get there with current gas prices.

Some of the biggest travel destinations this year are beaches and places with outdoor activities, according to AAA.

Let’s say you’re driving to Rocky Mountain National Park in a Toyota Corolla. AAA says it’ll cost you about $153 roundtrip.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina will cost about $264 roundtrip.

Orlando, Florida will cost about $289 roundtrip.

But, that’s a lot of driving.

If you booked a last-minute flight today, May 23, for a trip Thursday through Monday, you’d be looking at around over $300 to Denver, over $500 to Charleston, and over $500 to Orlando.

AAA says we shouldn’t expect gas prices to go down this summer.

“We know there’s a lot at play right now with global oil and gas industries and unless something dramatic changes, prices are going to remain where they’re at or continue to go up,” Chabarria said.





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Florida gas prices drop slightly ahead of busy Memorial Day travel


ORLANDO, Fla. – After days of setting new records, Florida gas prices have taken a dip.

The average price per gallon in Florida is $4.48, down 3 cents from the state’s record-breaking price of $4.51 per gallon.

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This decline comes ahead of an anticipated busy weekend for Memorial Day travel.

“Even though pump prices have moved slightly lower, gas prices on Memorial Day are still forecast to be the holiday’s most expensive yet,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said in a news release. “A combination of tightening global supplies and strengthening demand are the main culprits behind this unprecedented pain at the pump. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a quick end in sight. Gas prices are likely to continue fluctuating throughout the summer and remain well above year-ago levels.”

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Before this year, the previous record high in Florida was in 2008 at $3.93 per gallon. Floridians paid an average of $2.86 per gallon last year for Memorial Day travel.

AAA is estimating 90% of holiday travelers to drive to their destination this year.

Ways to save on gasoline

  • Combine errands to limit driving time.

  • Shop around for the best gas prices in your community.

  • Consider paying cash. Some retailers charge extra per gallon for customers who pay with a credit card.

  • Remove excess weight in your vehicle.

  • Drive conservatively. Aggressive acceleration and speeding reduces fuel economy.

Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.



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Houston gas prices: Tips on how to save money at the pump


According to AAA Texas, while Texas is still below the national average, the average cost of gas in the state is the highest its ever been at $4.29.

HOUSTON — Around town, drivers are seeing the numbers climb higher and higher at the pump.

“The gas prices are really hurting my pocket right now,” says Dominic Ballair.

According to AAA Texas, while Texas is still below the national average ($4.59 as of May 20), the average cost of gas in the state is the highest its ever been at $4.29.

“When we compare it where we were last year, more than $1.60 higher…” says Joshua Zuber who’s the Spokesperson for AAA Texas. He says a number of factors continue to impact the rising prices.

“Of course the war in Ukraine, a lot of countries banning or planning to ban Russian oil so you’ve got a tight supply of oil,” says Zuber. “Add to that increasing demand as we continue to see recovery from COVID-19, a lot of activities getting back to normal,” he continued.

RELATED: Why gas prices continue to break records

With the Memorial Day weekend approaching, it’s making some drivers like Patricia Franklin think twice about traveling.

“Too expensive, I’m just gonna chill out at the house,” Franklin says.

AAA anticipates that over three million Texans will travel for Memorial Day and rather than cancel plans, they expect travelers to modify them.

“Whether that means dining out at maybe less expensive restaurants or maybe not dining out as often. They may modify their accommodations, maybe staying at a less expensive hotel or building their trip around staying with family or friends,” says Zuber.

RELATED: You’re not just seeing things: Texas gas prices really are higher than ever – again

If you’re looking to save some money, AAA has a few recommendations:

  • Finding the cheapest fuel along your route using their “TripTik” website
  • B.E.T. – Check your Battery, Engine, and Tires
  • Drive the speed limit and use {using} cruise control when conditions allow

“You want to make sure that when you get to the gas pump you’ve shopped around,” Zuber says.

“I really have to use a credit card to pay for gas right now,” says Ballair.

The rising cost, for the foreseeable future, is likely something we’ll have to buckle up for.

“More than likely we are going to see these elevated prices over the next few weeks,” Zuber says.

Here are some more helpful tips from AAA:

AAA cautions drivers that allowing their cars to run out of fuel can not only put them in a potentially dangerous situation, but also could result in costly repairs.

Potential Costly Repairs from Running on Empty

Most modern cars have their fuel pump mounted inside the fuel tank. These pumps require a constant flow of fuel to lubricate and cool them during operation. Running a vehicle extremely low on fuel may allow air to be drawn into the pump, which can cause overheating and increased wear that eventually leads to pump failure. The cost to replace a fuel pump can be $500 or more in parts and labor.

Dangers of Running out of Gas

Running out of gas can put the personal safety of a driver and their passengers in jeopardy if the vehicle stops on the roadway. Power steering and brakes can be lost if an engine dies, and drivers may end up stranded in the middle of a busy highway. Fortunately, most out-of-gas situations can be avoided just simply by keeping an eye on the fuel gauge.

Finding the Lowest Gas Price Before Hitting Empty

AAA recommends drivers always maintain at least a quarter-tank of fuel. For drivers looking to save money when they fill up, the Auto Club can help with several free tools. Both the AAA TripTik Travel Planner and the free AAA.com/mobile app allow drivers to plan efficient routes and locate the least expensive places to stop for gas near their location.



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Rising gas prices force drivers to put travel plans on hold


MEMPHIS, Tenn.– There is no relief at the pump as gas prices continue to climb in the Memphis area and across the country. Gas prices are still breaking records, hurting drivers in their wallets and forcing them to make other travel plans for the summer.

Record high gas prices that seem to rise almost every day at Memphis area gas pumps have drivers digging even deeper into their pockets.

In West Memphis, Arkansas, it’s the same song, but with a different verse.

“We’re spending more money on the gas but for me personally I can afford it, but I can imagine people struggling financially. They wouldn’t be able to travel like I’m doing,” said George Johnson from Clarksdale, Tennessee.

AAA told WREG that as of Friday Tennessee has a state average of $4.29 a gallon. That’s nine cents more than on Monday.

Mississippi gas prices are now $4.18 and Arkansas has the lowest gas in the Mid-South at $4.12.

“We’ve seen record-breaking prices for over a week now. We’ve been over the four-dollar mark for a couple of weeks here in Tennessee and unfortunately, it looks like that trend is going to continue,” said Megan Cooper with AAA.

And with no end in sight to the rising prices and with Memorial Day fast approaching, AAA recommends you plan ahead.

“Make sure you’re up to date on your oil changes, make sure you’re looking at your tires, make sure they’re properly inflated and have proper tread depth,” Cooper said.

But the soaring prices are slowing down some summer travel plans and for others, it’ll mean not only putting the brakes on traveling but parking their vehicles altogether until gas prices come down.

AAA says as of Friday Memphis is the fourth most expensive metro area in the state of Tennessee.



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Gas prices hit record high as travel ramps up for Memorial Day weekend


COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Gas prices across the country are hitting record-highs just in time for the travel-heavy Memorial Day holiday.

AAA said Thursday that gas prices in Missouri are hitting new records every day since May 11. The nationwide average on Thursday is $4.59 and Missouri’s average is $4.19 — up $1.38 from this time last year.

Missouri has the fifth-lowest gas prices in the county; a few months ago it was battling for the lowest with Kansas.

“High demand for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel is putting upward pressure on oil prices which is causing prices to rise at the pump,” said AAA spokesperson Nick Chabarria.

However, AAA still expects Memorial Day travel to increase 5% from previous years.

“Despite record-high gas prices, AAA anticipates Memorial Day Weekend travel to be busy with 34.9 million Americans hitting the road,” Chabarria said.

AAA recommends safe driving to save on fuel prices. Speeding, accelerating and stopping quickly, idling the engine and not maintaining tires can result in using more gas than necessary.

Air travel is also expected to increase over Memorial Day weekend. Airline sales have been down since the pandemic began in 2020, but AAA expects Memorial Day this year to see levels close to 2019.

“Memorial Day is always a good predictor of what’s to come for summer travel,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “Based on our projections, summer travel isn’t just heating up, it will be on fire. People are overdue for a vacation and they are looking to catch up on some much-needed R&R in the coming months.”

To save money on flights and hotel bookings, AAA recommends planning ahead. The best time to book a flight is two weeks ahead, according to AAA, when prices will be an average of $445 per ticket. Last-minute bookers may be paying nearly double that, at an average of $845 per ticket.

American Airlines expects more than 5,700 customers daily through Memorial Day weekend. Spokesperson Gianna Urgo said the busiest day at Columbia Regional airport will be Thursday, May 26 with 5,761 scheduled flights.



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