BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — If you are hitting the road for this long Memorial Day weekend, expect some company. All signs are pointing to a near record number of travelers ready to hit the road.

Memorial Day is seen as the unofficial start of summer and if the numbers are accurate, it can’t come soon enough for travelers. Emmitt Williams was passing through Birmingham from Albuquerque and got to the airport early enough to beat the crowds.

“I have a rule that I don’t travel on Friday’s or Sunday’s because it’s just crazy, but today it hasn’t been that bad at all,” Williams said.

But, expect the crowds and stress level to increase. Clay Ingram with AAA expects this long weekend to jumpstart what might be a record year for travel.

“We are expecting 2023 to be the busiest travel year of all time. The indicators are that we may break every record that we’ve had pre-pandemic or any time. So it’s going to be a busy travel year for sure,” said Ingram.

Interstate travel is up nearly 10%. The third busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000. Gas prices may be one driver, down more than a buck compared to last year. Air travel is up 11%, which would make it the busiest airports have been since 2005.

Dr. Patrick Murphy with UAB’s Collat School of Business say’s travel may be a sign that post pandemic, supply is finally catching up with demand.

“I think the larger part of it is there’s also been a pent up kind of energy on the supply side of the equation where employers, hospitality companies, leisure companies and tourist companies haven’t been able to get the help and get the capacity to meet the demand, like they are able to do now. And so, I think supply is finally catching up to demand,” said Murphy.

Triple A estimates that there will be 2.7 million more travelers this Memorial Day weekend than last year.