Memorial Day travel: Plan ahead for gas savings, COVID-19 restrictions during holiday weekend

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As many more people get the COVID-19 vaccine, travel is up ahead of the holiday weekend.

Since 2014, gas prices have been highest over Memorial Day weekend. Still, people are eager to fill up and get away. 

“We’re going to New York City,” Kevin Maude said. “Seventeen hours each way.”

Maude is one of more than 37 million Americans who plan to travel in the days ahead. That’s 60% more travelers than last year, but still nearly 6 million fewer than pre-pandemic times. 

Most people will pack up the car and hit the road — more than 90% of that 37.1 million. The others will go by plane, train or bus where masks are still required by federal law.

“You will still be required to wear masks at the stations, at the airport and on the airplane,” AAA spokesperson Nick Chabarria said.

If you’re planning to travel, you might want to brush up on mask rules and other restrictions for your destination and even stops along the way.

Fortunately, there’s a tool you can use to find out what restrictions are in place in different states and cities.

AAA has a section called TripTik on its website where you can type in your location and destination. Then, it does the work — giving you details on mask restrictions in the state and city, as well as stops at restaurants and gas stations along the way. 

Another thing experts want travelers to be prepared for: gas prices. The receipts at the pump will add up faster than last year when hardly anyone was on the highway.

“So drivers are paying a little bit more than last year,” Chabarria said, “more than a dollar than last year.”

Drivers are certainly noticing.

“Definitely makes an impact on the checkbook,” Jeffrey Robson said.

The silver lining for the Show Me State: Missouri currently has the third cheapest statewide average in the country. Kansas is close, too.

Chabarria said the best bang for your buck is to drive south to the coast. 

“Through Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama — all those states are within the top 10 cheapest as well,” he said. 

If you’re looking to save a little money no matter where you fill up, there are a few tricks and gas apps that can help.

Beyond Memorial Day, if you plan to fly anywhere this summer, keep in mind the high rental car costs. Chabarria said they’re harder to come by and more expensive than years past. He said it’s smart to book that even before buying plane tickets. 

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