Even with gas prices continuing to soar, Americans are expected to hit the road in masses for Memorial Day.

The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline spiked 33 cents over the past two weeks to $4.71 per gallon. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday that the price jump comes amid higher crude oil costs and tight gasoline supplies.

In Washington state, the average for regular-grade gas hit a record Monday at $5.21 per gallon, up 20 cents from last week and 52 cents from last month.

COVID no longer the biggest concern for many travelers

But AAA is predicting 39.2 million people will travel at least 50 miles from their home during the traditional summer kickoff, an increase of 8.3% over 2021 and almost in line with 2017 numbers.

And Seattle is expected to be a prime travel destination this long weekend.

According to AAA booking data, Seattle will be the second most visited destination among U.S. big cities, just behind Orlando and before Miami.

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Traffic-wise, the worst time and place to be in Seattle over the holiday weekend will be on Friday (May 27) between 5 and 7 p.m. on Interstate 5 south, Highway 18 and Highway 7, AAA predicts.

With prices are already skewing higher and with greater demand, finding last-minute deals is unlikely, AAA said. Mid-range hotel rates, for example, have increased about 42% since last year, with the average lowest nightly rates among AAA-approved hotels ranging between approximately $199 and $257.

The organization is urging people to book now and stay flexible.

“Memorial Day is always a good predictor of what’s to come for summer travel,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “Based on our projections, summer travel isn’t just heating up, it will be on fire. People are overdue for a vacation and they are looking to catch up on some much-needed R&R in the coming months.”

This year’s nationwide forecast marks the second-highest single-year increase in travelers since 2010, bringing volumes almost in line with pre-pandemic levels.

For those heading out, Thursday and Friday are anticipated to be peak traffic days. AAA suggests reducing stress by:

  • Arriving at the airport at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours for international.
  • Considering booking a flight during non-peak travel periods to cut down on wait times.
  • Hitting the road when there’s less traffic and allowing extra time when traveling to your destination.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.