If you've decided to stay home this holiday weekend, you are not alone. Don't feel bad that you're not planning your annual Memorial Day getaway to the beach. Many people, a majority as a matter of fact, have decided that driving several hours to a weekend getaway is not in the best interest of their wallet.
As a traffic reporter by day, I witnessed a crazy phenomenon this past Friday-before-Memorial-Day. Afternoon rush hour, with no, rush. I couldn't believe it. In my four years in traffic, never have I seen major roadways that lead to shore destinations, so empty. Especially on a weekend where nothing but sunny skies were forecast. I continued through the rush hour watching as traffic patterns in the area thinned out even more, all the while shaking my head in disbelief and saying, "Where the heck is everyone?" By 6pm, when traffic cameras facing shore bound tolls were usually jam packed with sparkly red rear lights, all I saw were motorists pausing briefly to coast through the fast pass lanes. I thought I may have jumped the gun when I turned to my co-workers and said, "Oh man, this has got to be 'cause of the gas prices." But I wasn't wrong.
I looked up at the monitors to see that one of the news stations was reporting exactly my theory. Apparently, 60% of polled Americans report they will be opting to stay closer to home instead of driving to holiday destinations. That's 360,000 less travelers all choosing backyards over beaches.
With gas prices up sixty seven cents from last year, airfare up 8%, hotels up 9%, and rental car rates up a whopping 45%, more people this year are inclined to stay in town rather than venture out onto America's roadways.
And with supermarket prices for cookout supplies getting more expensive at the same time, filling our stomachs looks a lot better than filling our gas tanks.