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Georgia Memorial Day travel expected to decline

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

The American Automobile Association (AAA) Auto Club South is projecting that Georgia will experience a travel decline of 0.2 percent over the Memorial Day weekend, according to Jessica Brady, manager of public relations for the auto club.

Brady said a AAA survey indicates that 884,000 Georgians will travel that weekend, in automobiles, airplanes, buses or trains, which is a decrease from last year, where the state experienced 886,000 travelers.

Those numbers only represent Georgia travelers, added Brady.

While travel may be down overall, according to the AAA survey, automobile travel will be up slightly during the holiday weekend this year. AAA expects 754,262 Georgia motorists to hit the roads this year, which is an increase over the 752, 500, who traveled by automobile in 2009.

She said fewer Georgians, however, will travel by airplane. The state will experience a decrease of 2.9 percent in air travel, where 64,763 individuals will opt to fly this year, versus the 66,600 travelers who flew in 2009.

AAA is attributing the decrease in airline travel to an increase in airfares, a decrease in limited seating and an increase in other fees, such as luggage and meal costs, said Brady.

On the national level, AAA projects an overall 5.4 increase in travel this Memorial Day weekend, compared to 2009.

"Memorial Day weekend is an auto-heavy, travel holiday with more than 87 percent of travelers, or 28 million, planning to travel via automobile, versus the 26.4 million from last year," said Brady. "Air travel [nationally] is also expected to increase by 2.4 percent from last year," she added.

Brady said that, to ensure fuel efficiency, motorists should avoid constant breaking, and drive sensibly and safely, because aggressive driving and speeding wastes gas, and can lower the gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds, and 5 percent in city limits.

In addition, individuals should get their vehicles serviced, and ensure that their automobiles are inspected, and the oil is changed, before traveling, she said.

She said AAA urges drivers to focus on the road, and avoid distractions, such as talking on a mobile phone, or setting up a GPS device.

Georgians traveling by air should remember the U.S. Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) 3-1-1 rule, she said. A passenger is able to carry three ounces of liquids, aerosols and gels, inside a one-quart, zip-top bag, she explained.

Passengers should also remember to bring their medications in their carry-on luggage, so they are able to access them at anytime, Brady said.

"The last two years have left consumers [nationally] with a pent-up demand to travel, so we aren't surprised to see overall travel numbers increase this coming Memorial Day weekend," she said. "Although travel in the Southeast is expected to decline, there will still be millions of motorists on the roadways and passengers at the airports, so safety and patience are of the essence."

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