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Some holiday travelers hit the road, others stay home

By Jaya Franklin

jfranklin@henryherald.com

The Memorial Day weekend is here and even though gas prices and airline flights are forcing travelers to stretch their dollars, some people will not allow the expenses to spoil their vacation plans.

According to officials at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, between May 22 and 27, the airport is expecting a 7.2 percent increase in travelers.

Herschel Grangent, media relations manager at Hartsfield, said 96,000 more passengers will travel through the airport over a period of six days this week.

"I'm speculating that people are traveling [via plane] because they won't allow anything to detour them from [their vacation], and there is also the convenience factor" said Grangent.

"I'm sure that fuel prices are [also] a part of it, a trip across the country may be the same cost as purchasing a plane ticket."

Even though more people are utilizing the airlines to get them to and from their destinations, AAA's leisure travel index reports that the cost of flights has also increased -- by five percent more this year than last.

McDonough Councilwoman Gina Riffey said she does not have any travel plans this Memorial Day holiday.

"I'll be at home working on balancing the city budget," said Riffey, who noted that, if she were to travel for the holiday weekend, in her opinion, it would make more sense to fly to a destination because of the increase in gasoline prices.

According to AAA Auto Club South, the number of people expected to travel by car will decrease by 0.9 percent this week, from last year's total of 38.2 million travelers.

"Rising gasoline prices won't keep us from enjoying our family vacations, it will just keep us a little closer to home," said Kevin Bakewell, senior vice president of AAA Auto Club South. "The important thing to remember is that the lion's share of the vacation budget goes to hotel/motel accommodations, and eating in restaurants."

The AAA Auto Club South official said the cost of gasoline still amounts to a very small portion of the typical family vacation budget, which is usually ten percent.

Gas prices across the nation will average $3.75 per gallon for holiday travelers, and in Georgia, the average price has increased by 80 cents in the last year.