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High Memorial Day Gas Prices Not Affecting Travel Numbers, Says AAA

After a long, and at times seemingly endless winter, western Pennsylvanians are ready to travel for Memorial Day. 

And they're traveling despite the high prices at the pump.

Locals will pay more for gas this weekend than they have for the last four years. According to AAA East Central, Pennsylvania ranks among the top 10 markets with Memorial Day Weekend gas prices averaging at $3.08 per gallon. That’s well above the national average of $2.93, which is the highest since 2014. 

More than a dozen other states tout a gas price average of $3 or more.

Jim Garrity, a spokesman for AAA East Centeral, said the high prices didn’t have much of a negative impact on western Pennsylvanians’ travel plans. More than 41.5 million Americans are expected to travel over the holiday weekend which is a 5 percent increase from last year. Those figures include 4.86 million people in our region (which includes New Jersey and New York), an increase of more than 4 percent from 2017, Garrity added.

“We’re seeing people cut costs elsewhere,” said Garrity. He credits tactics like carpooling, grouping errands in one trip, and taking the most fuel efficient car in a family for travel. Nearly 90 percent of travelers chose to drive to their destination for the weekend. According to AAA, the average daily cost to rent a car is down 11 percent from last year. 

While Orlando tops this year’s list of most-visited Memorial Day destinations in the U.S., Garrity said the number of families that planned to visit national parks has increased. Other popular destinations include beaches like the Outer Banks, Ocean City and Myrtle Beach. 

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.