While AAA is predicting that more than 32 million travellers will hit the road over Memorial Day weekend, local travel agents aren't convinced that more people will be vacationing over the summer season, which traditionally begins after the holiday.
To them, it appears the lagging economy is causing people to stay home.
If anything, drivers are cautiously returning to the roads for vacations after the drop in gas prices from last summer, according to Linda Welshans, travel agency manager for AAA North Penn.
CRAIG S. McKIBBEN JR./Sun-Gazette
Theodore Coppes, 11, son of Michael and Nichole Coppes of Muncy, places an American Flag in a stanchion in Muncy Cemetary Thursday morning. Looking on is Janet Dudek, a
substitute teachers aide. Fifth-grade students from Myers Elementary teamed up with members of the Muncy Historical Society to adorn the graves of veterans with American flags.
"People are driving to a little bit farther away this year," she said. "We're seeing people travelling to places on the East Coast, like the beaches, Williamsburg, Va., etc."
Welshans said the she didn't think the recent spike in gas prices would deter travellers from vacationing this summer.
"(Gas) is still so much lower than it was last year," she said.
AAA recently released its annual Memorial Day travel forecast, which predicts that 32.4 million people in total will travel this weekend. Of that, 27 million will go by car, which is up 1.5 percent from the 31.9 million travelling last year. Air travel is expected to decrease 1 percent from last year, with only 2.1 million Americans travelling the skies over Memorial Day weekend.
Despite the increase in the overall number of travellers, this year's numbers are still down from those in 2007, when an estimated 35.3 million people vacationed over Memorial Day weekend.
In the forecast, AAA also said it doesn't expect the national average gas price to rise above $2.50 per gallon this summer.
Nadia Makary, the manager of ABC Travel Agency in Danville, said she's noticed that more people are taking advantage of local attractions or group trips to cut down on gas consumption.
"We have quite a few people going on our group cruises," she said. "People like to travel in groups."
Lou Smith, a travel agent with Destinations Travel Inc. in Selinsgrove, said that many cruise lines are offering deals in order to secure travellers.
"There's some fantastic deals out there, because (cruises) need people travelling," she said.
However, Smith said not many customers are taking advantage of the low prices because money is tight.
"Fares are down, but people are cautious about spending money," she said.
Jeri McNett, owner of Bob McNett Tours in Williamsport, whose agency specializes in group bus trips, said she has noticed that bookings are starting to increase slightly, as people realize group travel may be cheaper than travelling alone.
"People don't want to use their campers anymore because of gas prices, and they found out it was less expensive to go on one of our trips," she said. "My clients are lookng at their 401-K (payments) and interest checks, and they've gone down."
"Quite a few people are holding back," she said. "I get a lot of people coming in and saying 'I wish I could go, but my job is on the line.'"
Those who do travel, and even those who stay at home, should expect "normal" Memorial Day weekend weather, according to Tony Mach, a meteorlogical technician with the National Weather Service in State College.
According to Mach, on Saturday and Sunday, the forecast is expected to be "mostly sunny" with highs in the mid-70s and lows in the mid-50s. On Memorial Day, the weather is expected to be "partly cloudy," with a 30-percent chance of rain. Mach said that means rain is possible but not guaranteed. The high temperature is expected to be in the upper 70s.