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39 million Americans expected to travel for Memorial Day

CBS News logo CBS News 5/26/2022 Megan Cerullo
Flags on Charleston, South Carolina Pier © Getty Images/iStockphoto Flags on Charleston, South Carolina Pier

Millions of Americans are ready to kick off the summer travel season with a trip this Memorial Day weekend — at almost any cost. 

Call it "revenge travel." Thirty-nine million people are projected to travel, up more than 8% compared with 2021, according to AAA.

Of that figure, nearly 35 million Americans are expected to hit the road, despite record high gas prices. More than 3 million Americans will take to the skies, according to AAA's estimates. This would make the holiday weekend the busiest since 2019. 

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"What we've gone through as a country over the past couple of years, that is spurring people to just get out. They want to have those experiences," AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross told CBS News. 

Those experiences will come at a financial cost that most Americans appear willing to pay — gas prices continue to break records and hotel prices are up 42% compared to last year. 

"What am I going to do — just not go anywhere?"

"It sucks but what am I going to do — just not go anywhere?" Houston resident Hunter Berecz told CBS News. 

GasBuddy energy analyst Patrick De Haan expects fuel costs to keep rising. The average cost of a gallon of regular gas could hit $5 within a couple of weeks, he said, indicating that travel could get even more expensive over the course of the summer season.

Gas prices topped $4 in every U.S. state for the first time earlier this month. 

For motorists, experts suggest filling up their tanks about a mile or so from the freeway, where prices tend to be lower. 

Fliers who booked their plane tickets early got the best rates, but might strike out if they haven't already booked a rental car. Lower-priced and compact vehicles are mostly spoken for, while some larger and more expensive vehicles might still be available. 

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