More Wisconsinites will be traveling over the Memorial Day extended weekend.

AAA Travel projects 36.1 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the holiday weekend, that’s a 1.5 percent increase from last year. A little over 700,000 of those travelers will be Wisconsin residents, that’s a 1.1 percent  increase over the number of Wisconsinites who traveled last year.

Nick Jarmusz with AAA Wisconsin attributes the increase to better consumer confidence. “The continued slow, but steady, improvement in the economic outlook in the country is giving people a little more confidence to spend the money and take a trip like this, particularly this spring,” he says, “with the really long, harsh winter we had, we think there’s just a lot of pent up demand for people to get out there, enjoy some nicer weather, take a trip, you know, go somewhere fun.”

AAA defines the Memorial Day holiday travel period as Thursday, May 22 to Monday, May 26.

“We don’t necessarily know exactly how many people are going to be traveling on each day,” Jarmusz says. “I would suspect, anecdotaly, Friday is going to be the busier day. But yeah, some people may take Friday off and hit the road Thursday night to try to get a jump on things and then Sunday they may try and head back a little earlier to beat the Monday rush. But probably Friday and Monday are going to be your busier days.”

Kicking off the summer driving season, Jarmusz says more than eight in ten travelers nationwide — or 31.8 million — will be driving to their destinations. Air travel, buses, and other modes of transportation are also expected to increase from previous years.

Avoiding unforeseen developments, holiday gas prices are expected to be relatively similar or even slightly less than last year’s average of $3.63 per gallon.

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