Travelers takeoff for unofficial start of summer

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 5:07 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Many Vermonters and other folks around the region are hitting the road and taking to the skies for this Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial start of summer.

Close to 2 million New Englanders are expected to hit the road this holiday weekend, according to AAA. Some, like Michael Barrett of Burlington, were looking to get out into the nearby woods for some early-season camping. “There seems to be a bit of traffic on the road today but nothing too bad,” Barrett said.

Others were heading to Boston and beyond. “I think it’s going to be fine. A lot of people are headed up. We are heading down,” said Cheri Hansen from Massachusetts.

“We’re hopeful people are at work until 5 o’clock and we roll in at 3 and there are no problems,” said Cindy Woldf from Ottawa.

With average Vermont gas prices about a dollar below this time last year, many are opting for the open road. For others, air travel is the answer.

“Heading back home to visit family. Haven’t been back to Utah in a little so heading out that way,” said Jeff Sonderegger of Underhill, who arrived at a slow Patrick Leahy Burlington International Airport but will be headed through travel hotspots like JFK. “We got a long enough layover so we can take it easy -- by design.”

The airport’s Nic Longo says Vermont is right on track with expected FAA travel estimates. “When we looked at our forecast for summer 2023, we knew it was going to be busy, and Memorial Day weekend is exactly what we expected,” he said.

Sunday through Tuesday are projected to cap off a weekend of pre-pandemic-like travel numbers, with AAA expecting over 150,000 New Englanders to take off overall.

And while some are headed out of Vermont, others have chosen the Green Mountains for their holiday weekend. “First noticed the mountains, huge change from northern Virginia, so very beautiful,” said Morgan Hershey from Virginia.

“Really beautiful. The weather is lovely, everything is really green, and we are excited to visit,” said Daianna Karaian from New York.

Travelers we spoke to said the cost of rental cars -- as well as other costs in general -- continue to be high.

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