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Maybe you should stay home? 4 charts break down a busy Memorial Day weekend travel outlook

The nation’s highways and airports have been crowded with people marking the unofficial start of summer this Memorial Day weekend. Travel volumes for the first few days of the holiday weekend surpassed pre-pandemic levels, according to recent data from the Transportation Security Administration.

The more than 2.9 million travelers who passed through airports Friday set the record for the most passengers screened in a single day by the agency. TSA says five of its 10 busiest days ever were this month — a sign that travel is ramping up headed into summer.

Last year, TSA reported passenger volumes that slightly exceeded those of 2019 for the stretch from Thursday before Memorial Day to the Wednesday after.

This year, airlines were gearing up for an even busier weekend, with more than 269,000 flights scheduled from Thursday through Tuesday — up from more than 264,000 during the same period last year.

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AAA also forecasted a significant surge in air travel, with more than 3.5 million people expected to fly over Memorial Day weekend in 2024, reflecting a 9% increase from 2019.

Across all methods of transportation, AAA projected nearly 44 million travelers, which could be the most since 2005. The vast majority of American travelers — nearly 90%, according to AAA — will opt for the nation’s roadways.

For the more than 38 million travelers AAA projected to drive, gas prices will average around $3.65 per gallon nationally, as of May 23. Prices vary dramatically by region, with the highest levels on the West Coast: In California, a gallon of regular gasoline averages about $5.16. By contrast, motorists in the South will find the cheapest prices, with Mississippi having the lowest price: Just over $3.

CNN’s Greg Wallace contributed to this report

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