Memorial Day Weekend: Gas prices are up, is flying better than driving? How to save if you drive

Posted at 4:54 AM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 06:23:13-04

It's the unofficial start of summer as swimming pools, beaches and amusement parks flood with travelers for the Memorial Day Weekend, but there is one thing that might deter travelers this year. 

The price of gas is at its highest levels in four years, says AAA, but the sudden increase in gas does not mean that everyone will have a more expensive trip. AAA says that airfare is down 7 percent from Memorial Day Weekend of 2017 for the top domestic routes. Rental car rates are also 11 percent lower this year. 

AAA affiliated hotels are also showing upwards of a 14 percent savings from last year. 

Overall, 41.5 million Americans are expected to travel this Memorial Day Weekend, which is up nearly 5 percent. Even with gas up 56 cents nationwide from last year, AAA expects a 4.7 percent increase in the number of travelers by car.

“The highest gas prices since 2014 won’t keep travelers home this Memorial Day weekend,” said Bill Sutherland, senior vice president, AAA Travel and Publishing. “A strong economy and growing consumer confidence are giving Americans all the motivation they need to kick off what we expect to be a busy summer travel season with a Memorial Day getaway.”

If traveling by car, you'll find the cheapest gas in the South and Southern Plains. The average price of gas in those states is still below $2.75 per gallon. The most expensive gas is out west, topping out at $3.71 in California. 

Despite gas almost reaching $3 nationally, prices are still far cheaper than in 2014 when the average price of a gallon of gas in the United States was $3.65.


If you're headed out on the road, we want to help you get the best gas mileage for your summer road trip. Scripps went to Triple A Michigan's headquarters in Dearborn to talk to an expert about how to save gas. 

  • Experts say you should reduce the number of times you start and stop your car. 
  • Avoid sudden acceleration or sudden braking. 
  • What about your air conditioning? Does it make a difference? 
    • With the aerodynamics that manufacturers have built into the cars and increase productivity of the air conditioning units themselves, you're actually better off driving with the air conditioning on and the windows rolled up and your gas mileage will be better. 
  • What about the type of gas you put in your car? 
    • Experts say for most vehicles, premium gas won't improve your mileage especially if your car calls for regular unleaded.