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Be prepared to pay more for gas this Memorial Day weekend

  • A record number of Americans are planning to travel this Memorial weekend, despite high gas prices.
  • Gas prices average $2.97 per gallon nationally as of Friday.
  • There are certain days and times you may want to avoid the roads and airports in major U.S. cities.
A woman fuels her SUV at an Exxon Mobile gas station in Chicago.
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A woman fuels her SUV at an Exxon Mobile gas station in Chicago.

If you plan to hit the roads this Memorial Day weekend, get ready to pay a lot more at the pump.

Gas prices are poised to be the highest since 2014, according to travel organization AAA. Those prices averaged $2.97 per gallon as of Friday.

"Prices are nearly 60 cents more expensive than last year and will likely jump a few more pennies heading into Memorial Day weekend," said AAA spokeswoman Jeanette Casselano. "As nearly 37 million Americans travel by car this weekend, motorists will find gas for $3 or more at 25 percent of all gas stations across the country."

Those costs are not likely to deter many travelers, Casselano said, many of whom booked their trips months in advance.

A record number of Americans — more than 41.5 million — are expected to take to the roads, tarmacs and water on the weekend that traditionally kicks off summer, according to research released by AAA earlier this month.

That's the highest number of travelers in more than 12 years and about a 5 percent increase from last year.

The good news for air travelers is that fares have fallen 7 percent from last Memorial Day to an average of $168 for a round-trip flight for popular domestic routes, AAA said.

A daily car rental will average $59, about 11 percent cheaper than last year and the lowest rate in the past four years.

The busiest day for travel over the holiday weekend is expected to be Friday.

Here are the worst days and times to travel, according to global analytics company Inrix, which partnered with AAA for the study.

Metro area Worst day for travel Worst time for travel Delay multiplier of normal trip
San Francisco Friday, May 25 3:00 - 5:30 p.m. 1.7x
Los Angeles Friday, May 25 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. 1.9x
New York Friday, May 25 3:30 - 6:30 p.m. 2.7x
Detroit Friday, May 25 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. 1.5x
Chicago Friday, May 25 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. 2.1x
Seattle Friday, May 25 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. 1.8x

The report also looked at the top Memorial Day destinations based on advance travel bookings made through AAA.

Here are the cities that will get more crowded over the four-day weekend.

Top Memorial Day destinations

Rank City
1 Orlando, Florida
2 Seattle, Washington
3 Honolulu, Hawaii
4 Las Vegas, Nevada
5 Anchorage, Alaska
6 Phoenix, Arizona
7 Anaheim, California
8 Boston, Massachusetts
9 Denver, Colorado
10 New York, New York