More Memorial Day drivers this year; gas prices not spiking

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Hitting the road for Memorial Day weekend?

Lots of drivers are. An estimated 36.1 million Americans plan to travel to holiday destinations further than 50 miles from home between Thursday, May 22, and Monday, May 26, making it the second-busiest Memorial Day travel weekend since 2000, according to AAA.

That's a 1.5 percent increase from the 35.5 million people who traveled last year.

Memorial Day is the traditional beginning of the summer driving season, and more than eight in 10 travelers will be driving to their destinations this Memorial Day holiday, AAA says.

Air travelers this year will find airfares 6 percent higher, mid-range hotels up 2 percent and car rentals costing 1 percent more, AAA reported. Despite that, analysts predict a busy summer for air travel.

A long winter has given people the itch to travel, Marshall L. Doney, AAA Chief Operating Officer, said. “The winter blues appear to have given Americans the travel bug and a case of cruise cabin fever as travel for the holiday is expected to hit a new post-recession high.”

Meanwhile, gasoline prices are way below last year at this time. With the Memorial Day weekend just days away, it appears gas prices are not poised to make a big pre-summer spike, the financial news site Wall Street 24/7 reports. A drop in gas prices is accelerating nationwide, the site notes.

In fact, AAA foresees a dip in gas prices in advance of summer as the refinery maintenance season comes to a close and gasoline production rises, the site reports.

In Minnesota on Monday, gas prices averaged $3.49, compared to $3.62 nationwide, according to GasBuddy.

That compares to $3.51 in Minnesota a month ago – and current prices are way less than $4.28 a year ago.

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