This year’s Labor Day is going to be a busy one for travel. And why not, with gasoline prices nationwide dipping their lowest since 2004.
“People are taking advantage of that, and a lot of people are traveling," said Chelsea Pompeani, public affairs director of AAA East Central. “And I know the weather is supposed to be nice in certain areas.”
The national average for gas rests at $2.44 the week leading up to Labor Day weekend, which is almost a full dollar less than one year ago. In Pittsburgh, the average is $2.49.
So, how many people are taking to the roads with a little extra money in their pockets?
“It’s probably going to be anywhere from 33-35 million people on the roadways,” said Pompeani, or about the same number as a year ago.
AAA tracks roadway travel year-round. Pompeani said Memorial Day saw about 35 million people driving at least 50 miles, July 4 had nearly 36 million on the roads and this Labor Day weekend should maintain the trend.
That surge in affordable gas will likely be the kicker that overrides this year's holiday-killing combination of a late Labor Day and early school start times, Pompeani said.
“With the amount of children in school already, those (traveling during the holiday weekend) probably aren’t going to be as high,” she said, “But one of the reasons why they still are going to be significant is because gas prices are the lowest that they’ve ever been for Labor Day since 2004.”
Top destinations this summer include the Outer Banks, Myrtle Beach and Virginia Beach.
AAA advises travelers to drive distraction-free by turning off cell phones during the duration of the road trip. For families, Pompeani said they should try and carpool if traveling to the same destination and to leave early since a lot of people will be on the roads. And to save money, she suggests packing light.
“Even though gas prices are low, the more luggage that you have in the back of your car obviously weighs down the car, and in turn will result in you having to put more gas into your tank,” she said.