The lowest Labor Day gasoline prices in three years, an improving economy and good weather will combine to send more than 1.4 million Carolinas residents traveling this holiday weekend.
And those who stay at home will find plenty to do, with Carolinas weather finally resembling summer – on what is traditionally known as the final weekend of the summer season.
After weeks of rain and cloudy weather, meteorologists are predicting warm and humid conditions this weekend, with scattered afternoon and evening thunderstorms.
AAA Carolinas says more than 972,000 North Carolina residents and an additional 445,000-plus in South Carolina will travel 50 miles or more over the Labor Day weekend. The top destinations, according to AAA, are Asheville, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Charlotte and San Francisco.
“As the economy has steadily improved in the Carolinas, more families will take advantage of the last holiday weekend of the summer,” said David Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas.
Parsons says that after reaching summer highs July 21, gasoline prices in the Carolinas have fallen about 8 percent. He said Hurricane Isaac produced bad weather and a spike in gasoline prices last Labor Day weekend, discouraging many from traveling.
As usual, law enforcement agencies in both states will have extra patrols this weekend. South Carolina is conducting its “Sober or Slammer” campaign, which includes several “Hands Across the Border” checkpoints in cooperation with police in North Carolina and Georgia. In North Carolina, the Highway Patrol is running its “Booze It & Lose It” effort.
In each case, state police say they are trying to keep drunken drivers off the roads this weekend.
More holiday fun facts
Some interesting Labor Day travel facts, courtesy of AAA:
The majority of travelers (46 percent) will leave Friday. On the return, 43 percent will come home Monday and 42 percent Tuesday.
Hotel rates are up about 4 percent compared to Labor Day last year. You’ll pay $161 a night for the AAA’s three-diamond hotels (rated on a scale of one to four diamonds, with four being tops).
Car rental rates are up 32 percent over last year. Blame the increase on lower inventories, AAA says.
Steve Lyttle: 704-358-6107 Twitter: @slyttle
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