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Travelers fill up for Memorial Day Weekend despite high gas prices

Published: May. 26, 2022 at 4:59 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Shell station on Tchoupitoulas and Joseph Street might have the highest gas prices in town at $4.79 a gallon.

And it was a shock to some drivers like New Orleans resident Don Abaunza.

“I noticed that as I pulled in and I just need to top off. Otherwise, I would head somewhere else,” Abaunza said.

He’s making sure his tank is full before heading to his Memorial Day Weekend vacation, and he’s not too concerned about the $4.60 national average for a gallon.

“I’m headed to Florida with the family,” he said. “I have a new car and it’s pretty fuel efficient. I don’t think it will be too bad.”

AAA experts say that’s a common feeling among travelers eager to hit the road this weekend. The agency predicts 39.2 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend. That is an increase of 8.3% compared to 2021.

“It’s not to 2019 levels but certainly to pre-pandemic levels. Something to what we saw in 2017,” AAA spokesperson Don Redman said.

But while gas prices won’t keep people from road trips or flights, experts say they may cut corners with experiences and dining at their vacation destination due to inflation.

“Every aspect that has to do with travel is up due to next year,” Redman said.

New Orleans resident Katherine O’Bryon says she has to work through the holiday, but doesn’t see a lack of people trying to travel this weekend among her friends and family.

“I don’t know of anyone not going out because of gas prices. Everything is expensive now,” O’Bryon said.

While some people are biting the bullet at the pumps for their trips, other people are considering what electric vehicles can do.

“I pass up gas stations. It’s the best thing about it,” New Orleanian Antoine Criss said.

He was charging up his Tesla that he uses for his ride-sharing job at one of the many charging stations across the metro area. Criss says he enjoys the savings he gets by having an electric vehicle as opposed to a gas-reliant one.

“A full tank is $12. It’s way easier because I’m not guzzling gas. No more dinosaur juice,” he said.

Redman says that electric vehicles only make up about 1% of all vehicles in the United States, but it is growing in popularity - especially for road trips. But some people who rely on gas stations only hope prices go down.

“America is kind of tragic these days. Gas prices don’t seem to be the most tragic thing going on right now,” O’Bryon said.

AAA has a Gas Cost Calculator to help travelers determine how much it would cost them to keep their tank filled for a road trip. It can be found on their website.

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