With half of all Americans now vaccinated against COVID-19 and the virus numbers plummeting, Americans’ travel appetite has returned. And the first big travel weekend of the warm weather season is shaping up to be a big one. AAA’s Memorial Day travel forecast calls for 37 million Americans to travel at least 50 miles from home this holiday weekend—a 60% increase from last year’s 23 million, when the pandemic was still in its early months. “We’re seeing more folks getting vaccinated, and we’re seeing that pent-up demand…folks want to travel,” says Josh Zuber, AAA spokesman. “So we’re seeing a lot of folks gearing up again for road trips.”
The numbers are similar in Texas. “We’re going to be seeing an increase of more than 50-percent here in Texas for the number of folks driving 50 miles or more away from home over the five-day holiday weekend,” says Zuber. “We’re not quite back to those 2019 levels…we’re actually expecting nine percent fewer compared to that 2019 number.”
Zuber tells KTRH people in the Houston area especially should “pack their patience” and plan ahead. “Here in Houston, we are in the top ten metro areas as far as congestion goes, and we could actually see up to three times the delays in some of our busiest corridors this weekend,” he says.
“If you’re coming back on Monday or Tuesday, keep in mind that I-45 south within the loop could see about a 110-percent increase for congestion.”
All of those people hitting the roads will be paying more to gas up. The AAA gas price index has the Texas average at $2.73 per gallon—the highest Memorial Day price in Texas since 2018. “This year, it’s really all about planning ahead,” says Zuber. “Make sure you know what to expect, not only along your route but also once you get there.”