By Brittany Karford
The sun is shining, it?s a three-day weekend and there?s a hint of summer in the air. It?s just enough to overlook that $2.30 per gallon at the pump.
Despite enduring some of the highest gas prices in the nation, it seems there?s more concern about the forecast for the Memorial Day holiday.
?Weather has effected Utah travel more than anything this year,? said Lori Pendle, a spokeswoman for the St. George Travel Council. ?It?s been an interesting year with so much flooding, but I don?t think gas prices will keep people home.?
Rain or shine, AAA reports over 330,000 Utahns plan to hit the road this Memorial Day weekend. About 80 percent of those are expected to travel by motor vehicle.
?People just like to get out of town, especially after winter,? said Rolayne Fairclough, a spokeswoman for AAA. ?Regardless of concerns over continuing high fuel prices, Utahns are not forsaking their getaway plans with friends and family.?
The Memorial Day holiday is usually a good indicator of what to expect for the season, and AAA?s survey results indicate a strong summer-travel season.
That?s not to say drivers aren?t conscious of gas prices. The survey also found that travelers will try to cut the cost of their trips by an average of $80, cut the distance covered and cut the time spent on vacation.
Jared Green, a junior, majoring in Japanese and business, cut his traveling distance this weekend by 18 hours, roundtrip. Last Memorial Day weekend he drove 14 hours home to Beaverton, Ore., where his family traditionally spends the holiday barbequing at the beach, but Green won?t make it back this year.
?Driving home to Oregon would cost $200 in gas there and back,? Green said.
Still, the price at the pump can?t keep him in Provo over the three-day weekend. Green is heading to Lake Powell for the first time with a carload of friends ? a more affordable five-hour drive.
?You split the cost with a couple buddies and it?s one-fifth the cost of gas it would be to go home,? said Green, who would have had to shoulder the cost of driving home alone.
Fairclough offered more tips from AAA to further cut the cost of travel. By packing meals whenever possible, booking accommodations in advance and making use of discounts, travel costs can be reduced.
These are wise recommendations, as Fairclough said the cost of eating, lodging and entertainment have increased 4.8 percent this year.
?You spend $100 or so a night on a hotel room,? Fairclough said. ?In the whole scheme of a vacation, gasoline is not the highest cost.?
Still, the hot tourist spots in Utah haven?t had a problem filling hotels.
?We?re overbooked solid,? said Tina Lopez, a spokeswoman for the Moab Area Travel Council. ?We haven?t seen any decline.?
Expect to see the roads crowded this Memorial Day weekend.