Memorial Day 2013: Higher Gas Prices, Fewer Travelers

As a travel-heavy weekend approaches, here are some things motorist should keep in mind.

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As millions of Americans prepare to get behind the wheel and embark on a Memorial Day getaway this weekend, they should also be bracing for something else: high gas prices.

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Fuel costs have been on the rise across the country recently, especially in California and the Midwest. Due to refinery issues, the statewide average in Minnesota jumped to $4.27 per gallon this week, a record high for the state and the highest average price in the Lower 48 states, according to the Minneapolis-Star Tribune. In mid-May, gasoline prices jumped 11 cents in two weeks for California residents.

While experts say prices should ease slightly in those regions as refinery capacity comes back online and supplies bulk up, with nationwide prices averaging around $3.66 per gallon according to the AAA Fuel Gauge, pit stops along road trip routes will still pinch consumers' pocketbooks.

But there might be a bit of a silver lining. Even if travelers are paying a little more at the pump, America's roadways will be a little less clogged this holiday weekend. According to AAA, slightly fewer Americans will be traveling over the holiday weekend, which could make temper-flaring traffic jams fewer and farther between.

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Here's a few more stats about what vacationers can expect this Memorial Day weekend:

$659: The median amount travelers will spend over the holiday weekend. That's compared to $702 in 2012. About 28 cents of every dollar spent goes to transportation costs, according to AAA.

690: The average number of miles Americans intend to travel this weekend, up from last year's distances of 642 miles. "Travelers expect fuel to consume a larger share of their travel budget," a recent AAA survey noted.

34.8 million: The number of Americans who plan to travel for Memorial Day. That's slightly less than 2012 when 35.1 million Americans packed up for holiday weekend, something AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet credits to "an 8 percent decrease in the number of people expected to take to the skies this weekend." The figure is still above the 12-year historical average of 34.7 million travelers.

38: The percentage of travelers who said high gas prices would affect their travel plans. To compensate for high fuel costs, 27 percent are economizing in other areas, 8 percent are planning to take a shorter trip and 3 percent will travel by an alternate mode of transportation.

4 percent: While driving retained its frontrunner position as the preferred transportation method of choice, 4 percent of Americans are trying alternate means of transportation including rail, bus, and watercraft.


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