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Big Sky Connection   Memorial Day weekend is the start of summer travel, but high gas prices and inflation are hitting people's pocketbooks. Comments from Aldo (ALL-doh) Vazquez, spokesperson, AAA Montana, who says those factors aren't affecting people's desire to travel much.

Click on the image above for the audio.  Gas prices are higher on average in western Montana than they are in eastern Montana. (Vinícius Bacarin/Adobe Stock)

Eric Tegethoff

The cost of heading out of town this Memorial Day weekend will be higher than past years, with higher gas prices and inflation hitting travelers. However, many Montanans still will be getting out of town.

The average price of gas per gallon in Montana is $4.38, slightly below the national average of $4.60 but still a record high for the state.

Aldo Vazquez, spokesperson for AAA Montana, said people want to get away from home this weekend.

"It really isn't impacting their desire to travel much," Vazquez reported. "We are seeing an increase in travel across the board - 39 million people are going to be traveling across the country for the Memorial Day holiday. That's three million more folks than traveled last year."

Although numbers are up from last year, Vazquez noted they are not to the levels from just before the pandemic, and are more in line with 2017 numbers.

Vazquez pointed out there are some ways to save money, such as making sure your tires are fully inflated, and dodging stop-and-go traffic, which burns gas faster.

"If you can avoid those hours between 1 to about 8 p.m. and leave maybe earlier in the morning or later on at night," Vazquez advised. "Not only are you going to save a little bit more on gasoline, but you can also save a lot of that headache and stress about being stuck in traffic and get to your destination smoother."

For people traveling by air, Vazquez suggested passengers arrive at the airport early. He noted staff shortages have led to more flight cancellations than usual, a pattern ongoing since last year.