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AAA expects a busy travel holiday weekend and season

summertime view of a highway with trucks, cars and semis

Memorial Day weekend is often seen as the unofficial kick-off to summer. The weekend and the entire season are expected to be busy travel-wise. AAA expects a 4% increase over last year.

Public Affairs Manager Kara Hitchens says in Ohio alone, the number of vehicles on the road should be up nearly 3.5%.

“We have found for a while that gas prices really don’t affect travel that much,” she says. “People tend to make adjustments in their budget, whether that means eating out less while you’re on vacation, maybe selecting different accommodations while you’re out there. But people are still intent on going.”

Hitchens says gas prices have climbed in the last month, but are still below where they were a year ago.

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Hitchens says the number of travelers extends beyond the other summer holidays, like Independence Day and Labor Day. She says it stretches across all demographics. “I think it’s families getting together. I think young adults are travelling all together. Obviously, retirees who have the disposable cash and the time to do a lot more traveling. I think everyone’s getting out there.”

Reasons may vary, but Hitchens says there are some notable trends. “The pandemic put in a lot of people’s minds about how precious life is, so why wait?” she says. “If you have a bucket list that you have, tick it off and start doing it. We also see a lot of heritage travel going on; maybe their grandparents or great grandparents came from Italy. They’re doing a family trip to Italy. That’s happening a lot as well.”

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Hitchens says cruise ships are very popular, including to the Caribbean, and along European rivers. Closer to home, AAA's survey found a lot of Ohioans will be heading to Florida, Tennessee, and Myrtle Beach, S.C., at some point this summer.

AAA predicts this will be the busiest Memorial Day travel weekend since 2005. Hitchens says that's when the travel industry rebounded after 9-11.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.