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Even with high gas prices, Memorial Day travel expected to ramp up in Wisconsin

AAA projects 7.4 percent jump in travelers this weekend compared to last year

Westbound Highway 94 leaving Milwaukee
A view of westbound Highway 94 leaving Milwaukee. Gretchen Brown/WPR

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is shaping up to be one of the busiest travel weekends since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

AAA Wisconsin is projected 740,946 Wisconsin residents will travel 50 or more miles between Thursday and Monday. That’s not quite as many as what the state saw in 2019, but it’s 7.4 percent more than last year’s travel numbers.

About 90 percent of those travelers will take road trips, even with record high gas prices, Nick Jarmusz, AAA’s director of public affairs for Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, said.

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“They want to find other ways to make a trip work within their budget, and they’ll cut expenses wherever they can elsewhere to make sure they can still have that vacation that they’ve been looking forward to,” he said.

In past years, Jarmusz said, those offsets have meant “staying at a less expensive hotel, or even eating in, if you have the ability to do so, versus going out to dinner a few times. Gas prices are never going to be the most expensive part of your travel budget, and so there are always ways that people can make it work and still get out there.”

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the start of peak travel season.

Jarmusz said it’s likely the increased demand will continue through the summer.

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