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Fasten Your Seatbelts, AAA Says It's Going To Be A Bumpy Weekend For Memorial Day Traffic

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Traffic in Atlanta, Georgia during rush hour (via Wikimedia)

Traffic in Atlanta, Georgia during rush hour (via Wikimedia)

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As Loverboy once said, everybody's working for the weekend. That's doubly true now, as Americans look forward to the long, Memorial Day holiday after enduring a some chilly winter temps.

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But while the idea of a beach retreat seems appealing, the reality is that most of us will have to do some driving to reach the dunes. According to AAA, this weekend, the roads are going to be clogged with many other folks who also long for a place in the sun.

All told, AAA expects 36.1 million Americans to make a break for it this weekend, a new, post-Recession high for Memorial Day travel. Eight-eight percent of those folks -- 31.8 million -- will travel by car. The total number of vacationers is up 1.5 percent from the 35.5 million who got out of town last year, and it's 2.6 percent above the ten-year average.

That's great news for hotel and restaurant owners in tourism hot spots, but not so much for travelers and their wallets. Gas is still very pricey: the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded is $3.65, one thin penny cheaper than this time last year. And if you use premium, you'll be paying slightly more than you did in 2013. Thankfully, rental cars are manageable: the weekend daily rate averages $44, which is up just one percent from last year.

Hotel stays have edged up slightly, too, with AAA's Two Diamond-rated hotels averaging $124 per night, up three percent above 2013. Three Diamond properties are up two percent, to $169.

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AAA attributes the uptick in prices to strong demand. Not only are many Americans trying to shake off cabin fever after being snowbound for months, but the improving economy has given them the financial wherewithal to skip town.

If you're heading out for the holiday, let us know where you're going and what, if anything, you're doing to save ducats. And for those of us stuck in city centers, please send pics!


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