BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – More than 37 million people are expected to travel this Memorial Day Weekend according to AAA.
Alabama roads and highways will be packed as people head to parks, beaches, lakes and anywhere outdoors to enjoy the nice weather. Travel experts believe, because of the pandemic, traveling will increase exponentially.
“And that pent up demand is through the roof,” AAA Spokesperson Clay Ingram said.
“We’re very excited seeing more travelers in the terminal,” Candace O’Neil with the Birmingham Airport said.
But there are plenty of other Alabamians who plan to stay near home and enjoy some good food.
“Of course we’re gonna grill. BBQ as always,” Lashayla Cochran from Sylacauga said.
Cochran was at Railroad Park with her family Friday afternoon. She says they were visiting one of her daughters and wanted a fun family afternoon out.
“We just come up and visit her (daughter). Come to the park. And the kids, they enjoy it,” Cochran said.
Ingram says travel has increased 60% from 2020, but is still down 13% from 2019.
“It’s going to be busy and if you are out there, then it’s definitely going to feel like a holiday weekend,” Ingram said.
Ingram says 90% of people will be traveling by car this holiday because of price and convenience. Right now in Alabama, the average gas price is $2.83 per gallon.
“That’s 3 cents per gallon less than it was a week ago,” Ingram said.
He encourages people if they travel to places like Florida to fill up on gas in Alabama because of price. Florida’s average price is $2.87 per gallon according to AAA.
Public Relations and Marketing Manager of the Birmingham Airport Candace O’Neil says they have seen an increase in travelers recently. She says the TSA screened more than 4,000 people on Friday, which she says was quite the jump from last year.
“I think overall people were thinking it would take maybe a 3 to 4 year recovery period, but leisure travel has come back very strong,” O’Neil said.
While the leisure travel is fun, Alabamians like Tim Gowins hopes people remember what the holiday is all about.
“They sacrificed what we couldn’t sacrifice,” Gowins said.
“It’s just awesome to be around family. To just, you know, have your family,” Cochran said.
Ingram says AAA has an app available that shows travelers where the cheapest gas is near them. It’s free and available for both iPhone and Android.