Even though gasoline prices are flirting with four-dollars a gallon across Iowa, it’s not expected to keep motorists from heading down the road for the upcoming holiday. Gene LaDoucer, spokesman for AAA-Iowa, says this Memorial Day weekend should actually be busier than a year ago.
“Despite the sharp increase in gas prices since last year, we do expect a slight increase in the number of travelers,” LaDoucer says. “About 100,000 travelers more this year than last year, so we’ll see about 34.9-million Americans traveling over the weekend.”
The motor club says gasoline prices are averaging $3.88 a gallon statewide, compared to $2.79 a gallon a year ago. Still, he says there will be an uptick in travelers.
“It is somewhat surprising but you have to realize in the last year, the economy improved some, people feel better about their budgets, more secure in their jobs and they want to get up and travel,” LaDoucer says.
He says more people are staying closer to home with their Memorial Day weekend trips, while the activities they choose will be less costly. By and large, he says more people will be doing things like going bicycling or hiking in state parks instead of going to high-dollar concerts or fancy dinners.
“Because this holiday is generally just a long weekend, people tend to do that,” LaDoucer says. “They’ll stay closer to home and spend money in their local economies and yes, it’ll help boost the local economies and some of the retailers and tourist attractions in the area. Some of the long trips people had planned will have to wait until later in the summer.”
While gasoline prices have dropped a few pennies a gallon in recent days, he’s predicting pump prices will fall even farther.
“We’re actually going to see some relief at the pump in the next week or so,” LaDoucer says. “We should see gasoline prices come down 10 to 15 cents leading into Memorial Day and hopefully after that, they will continue to move lower. Somewhere in the mid-three-dollar range is where we expect to see prices later on in the summer.”
AAA says an overwhelming majority of Americans will be traveling by automobile during the holiday weekend. About 31-million people plan to drive to their destinations — that’s almost nine out of ten travelers. A survey finds the average distance that will be traveled during the weekend will be 792 miles, an increase of 27-percent from last year’s average distance of 626 miles.