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Memorial Day travel on the rise as gas prices fall

Ohioans, including some Ohio State students, are expected to hit the road in increasing numbers this Memorial Day weekend as gas prices are projected to continue to decrease, according to an AAA report.

Kimberly Schwind, public relations manger at AAA Ohio Auto Club, said the number of traveling Americans has started to increase since 2009 after a drop in travelers during the recession. Over the last year, Schwind said she has seen a steady increase in travelers.

“Ever since 2009 we have noticed more people traveling,” Schwind said. “During the recession we saw travel numbers drop. Starting last year, things started to gradually grow. Now they really want to travel.”

According to the May 19 AAA report, a “pent up demand for travel” and a “slowly improving economy” are causing the increase in travelers.

AAA projects that Memorial Day weekend, will see a total of about 34.9 million American travelers, about 1.4 million of them Ohioans, travel 50 miles or more from home. The report said the increase of 0.2 percent nationwide and 0.3 percent in Ohio shows a slightly increasing number of travelers.

If gas prices drop there might even be more travelers, the report said. But Schwind is skeptical.

“You have to be careful with gas price projections. What you see at the pump may be different,” Schwind said. “Based on what is happening right now … all the cards are stacked to see (gas prices) fall.”

Blair Blumenscheid, a second-year in strategic communication, said she won’t be traveling this weekend because gas prices are high and the economy has taken a toll on her family. Blumenscheid said she lives at home and commutes to OSU.

“A lot of our family have lost their jobs … or have had to move for jobs,” Blumenscheid said. “The economy just sucks. … Gas prices have been killing us.”

While most of Blumenscheid’s extended family lives in Ohio, she said she won’t be making a trip to see them this weekend because it’s hard to afford gasoline and barbecue supplies. Instead, she will be staying home with her immediate family to grill out and write a paper.

Jeremy Capetillo, a third-year in entomology, said he will be traveling to Chicago for Memorial Day weekend with the OSU junior class honorary, Chimes, for a year-end trip. There are nine members traveling to Chicago in two cars and Capetillo said the cost for gas is about $30 per person.

Capetillo said paying for the trip’s gas doesn’t bother him. Capetillo said he and fellow travelers weren’t concerned about the gas prices.

“No one was opposed to it. We just said we would split it up,” Capetillo said.

While gas prices might remain high, it won’t stop people from traveling, Schwind said.

“Even with high gas prices … people still want to travel and they are going to,” Schwind said.

Marty Kalfas, a fourth-year in anthropology, said he and his immediate family won’t be traveling Memorial Day weekend because his extended family lives in Colorado.

“My family has never been big on traveling Memorial Day weekend,” Kalfas said. “It would be kind of expensive to get out there (Colorado). For us, it’s never been issues of price. If we want to go out, we do.”


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