Whether they're coming or going, rising gasoline prices don't appear to be impacting area residents' travel plans for Memorial Day weekend.
"I don't think we're too affected by that," said Barlow resident Jo Gibson, 55, who will spend the long weekend gathering with family from Dayton at her parents' house here in Washington County. "It is something we can't change."
The average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline in the Marietta area Thursday was $3.703, more than 3 cents less than the same period last year, said Bevi Powell, vice president of community relations at AAA East Central in Pittsburgh. But it represents a jump of more than a dime a gallon over last week and nearly 8 cents from a month ago.
"There have been some refinery issues with the midwest refineries switching over to the summer blend," Powell said.
Memorial Day weekend represents the start of the summer travel season, and that's usually when demand rises, Powell said. But the demand isn't as great this year, and prices aren't expected to climb much higher, barring severe weather events or other refinery concerns, she said.
The price of oil right now is between $90 and $95 a barrel, well below the $150-a-barrel price when record highs eclipsed $4 a gallon in 2008, Powell said.
Memorial Day/summer travel tips
How much driving can you handle?
Traffic, construction and personal considerations mean you have to back extra time into any itinerary. Be honest: how much can you actually stand to be behind the wheel each day? For many people, eight hours is plenty. Others prefer to grit their teeth and drive straight through. Remember, the summer sun is bright and hot, which can hasten fatigue.
Make hotel reservations ahead of time
There's nothing worse than arriving on a hot, sticky night to discover the place you were sure you could stay is booked solid. If you're headed to a major city, be sure to book at least a few nights' hotel reservations in advance. You can fudge it a little along the highway, but it's good to have a place or two picked out.
Do you want to drive your own vehicle?
Consider renting a car if you'd rather keep the wear and tear on yours to a minimum. You can be assured of something brand new, and perhaps test out the model you might buy next. Again, with popular destinations, book your car in advance and look for discounts.
Factor in gas prices
Even within the same area, it's common to find a 20-cent difference in price, true especially in college cities. Apps such as Gas Buddy are invaluable for planning your gasoline budget, and for finding stations with the best prices.
Consider the newest family members
Young families setting off on vacations often find they can't cover as many miles when infants and toddlers must be tended to. Try a short trip - maybe a long weekend - to test your little ones' endurance. A trial run also will teach you how much baby gear you need to bring, and what you can pick up on the road.
Keeping children occupied - beyond video screens
It's tempting to let them fill time with video games and DVD players. But road trips can be learning experiences. If they spot a sign and want to see Rock City or visit the world's biggest ball of twine, let them have their way, as long as it doesn't sidetrack the trip too much. Check out books and films before you leave and discuss them en route.
Older travelers need some fun too
Multi-generational trips can be a delight. But these travelers may not be able to keep pace with their children and grandchildren, so make sure you plan some fun for them, too. Ask them to help you figure out places to stop, and ask your children to show them some pointers about Solitaire and Angry Birds.
Campers need spots too
You might think a camper or RV gives you freedom from needing to know where you'll be staying. But the most popular campgrounds book up just as fast as big city hotels. Book your reservations before you arrive, so you can glide in and hook up.
Plan your theme park strategy
Experienced park-goers know the drill: Arrive as early as possible, buy tickets in advance, look for group discounts or deals online, head for the attractions you really want to visit first. Some theme parks now offer discounts for late afternoon visits, when people who've been there all day begin to go home.
Detour to a farmer's market
In every corner of the country, you'll find farmers' markets that offer a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, prepared foods and gift items. They're often a fantastic way to sample local fare, and also save tons of money compared with restaurants.
AAA expects more people to travel by car this holiday weekend than last year, but overall travel should be down because of a projected 8 percent drop in air travel.
"AAA is forecasting Memorial Day travel to be slightly lower this year due to an to an up-and-down economy, the impact of the end of the payroll tax holiday on working families and a 30-year low in the percentage of working-age people in the workforce," said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet in a release from the federation of affiliated motor clubs.
An estimated 31.2 million travelers, 89 percent of the total, are expected to make a journey of more than 50 miles by automobile, up from 31.1 million last year, according to AAA. Meanwhile, air travel is expected to drop from 2.5 million in 2012 to 2.3 million this year.
Marietta resident Gilda Bills said her family doesn't always travel for Memorial Day but this year they're heading to Lake Snowden near Athens to camp with her daughter and son-in-law. Fuel prices won't be a factor, she said.
"Not this weekend, 'cause it's our daughter's birthday," Bills said.
Gasoline likely won't deter the family's annual trek to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., this summer either.
"We'd still go to Tennessee," Bills said. "Our grandson, he's 10, and he likes it down there."
The Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau is expecting plenty of folks to take advantage of local attractions over the long weekend, whether they're out-of-towners or residents.
"You can expect a lot of boaters, people out dining and shopping," said Casey Knowlton, public relations and social media coordinator for the bureau. "Usually having the extra day on the weekend gives people an extra chance to get outside and maybe do some things they haven't done before."
But that's not the case for Reno resident Jeff Reisberger, 66.
"I'm just going to try to enjoy the day at the house," he said, adding that he'll leave the attractions and activities to "the working people" on Monday.
"I'm retired," Reisberger said. "I can do those kind of things through the week."
And not everyone has the day off.
"I'm working, actually," said Ellie Barnhart, 25, of Marietta.