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Memorial Day travel to be up despite current gas prices
In this file photo, Darin Candler cleans his BMW at a Chevron station in Los Angeles.Millions of Americans are ready to hit the road for the Memorial Day holiday this weekend. - photo by ASSOCIATED PRESS/file
Even though gasoline prices are at record highs, travel will be up slightly over the Memorial Day weekend, according to figures from AAA.
    The travel organization estimates 38.3 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles during the holiday weekend, which is traditionally the start of the summer travel season. That figure represents a 1.7 percent increase over last year's number. Of those, one million are expected to be Georgians.
    "High gas prices and increased vacation costs won't deter Americans from traveling this Memorial Day weekend, nor do we expect an impact on summer travel," said Kevin Bakewell, senior vice president for AAA Auto Club South. "On the contrary, we anticipate a strong summer season for family travel and that includes not only the traditional family vacations to the shore but a growing interest in international travel and cruises to Europe."
    Joey Godbee, one of the partners of Express Tune and Lube in Statesboro, said they typically see an upswing in business before holidays, including Memorial Day.
    "Usually we get a pretty good boost, but we've got a lot of customers complaining about fuel costs this year," Godbee said. "We may see some traveling slow down, which probably means we'll see some vehicle maintenance slow down as well."
    Godbee recommended checking the fluids in your car as well as getting an oil and filter change prior to taking any long trips.
    "You also want to check your tire pressure and check your tires all the way around," he said. "Tires are definitely key to safety for a vehicle."
    Those who do travel will see the highest prices ever for a gallon of gasoline, according to AAA.
    Nationally, a gallon of regular unleaded fuel is nearly $3.23, up 36 cents from this time last year. In Georgia, prices are about a dime cheaper per gallon while in Savannah - the closest market to Statesboro tracked by AAA, gas is $3.10 for regular unleaded.
    Prices are up despite an increase in gasoline inventories, AAA said, but those increases are not enough to meet the higher demand for the Memorial Day weekend and summer travel season.
    "Couple this information with on-going refinery outages – newest outages in Texas, Louisiana and Indiana – a threatened Nigerian labor strike and reduced imports of refined gasoline; all point to yet higher retail gasoline prices," said Randy Bly, director of community relations for AAA Auto Club South.
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