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Inflation won't put a damper on this summer travel season

Traffic on I84 on the eastern edge of Hartford
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
Traffic on I84 on the eastern edge of Hartford

The traditional summer travel season will likely be kicking off with a very busy Memorial Day weekend.

AAA is predicting more than 2 million New Englanders will be traveling this weekend, roughly 400,000 Connecticut residents will be among them.

That would be a 6% increase over last year, but still shy of numbers before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The vast majority of travelers will be on the roads. AAA says the busiest drive time will be Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Connecticut State Police said they will launch extra roving DUI patrols beginning Thursday evening and running through Monday.

“It's a lot of work for patrol troopers that are working every single day,” Sgt. Christina Jeltema said. The state troopers have roughly 200 vacancies.

But she said they’ll do “anything that will keep the citizens and people driving through Connecticut safe throughout this holiday weekend.”

If you’re Bradley bound

“International travel is surging,” AAA spokesperson Fran Mayko said. “Our bookings are 250% higher this holiday weekend than last year.”

Mayko said 43,500 Connecticut residents plan to fly this Memorial Day weekend.

Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks advises arriving at the checkout counter 3 hours before an international flight’s departure and 90 minutes for a domestic flight.

Passengers can brush up on what they can and cannot pack at the Transportation Security Administration’s website.

“I think one of the things that I hear from our TSA colleagues, is that people forget they have loose change and stuff like that in their pockets,” Bradley’s Public Information Officer, Alisa Sisic, said. “So all of that ends up slowing down the process.”

Sisic said Bradley expects its busiest period will be Thursday morning.

What about inflation?

Airfare to top destinations is up 40% this year, according to AAA, and eating out is also more costly.

The National Restaurant Association cites federal data which shows restaurants prices in April were 8.6% higher than the same time the year before.

So why isn’t that putting a damper on people’s plans?

University of New Haven Professor Jan Jones said, “People are feeling comfortable to travel again and they want to get back out into the world.”

She advised anyone who is traveling this summer to plan ahead for more than just a plane ticket, a hotel room and a rental car.

“The reality right now is you also have to book ahead for events, and you also want to book ahead for any kind of dining that you're going to do,” she said.

Jones said that’s because the restaurant industry is still facing staffing shortages.

Jennifer Ahrens is a producer for Morning Edition. She spent 20+ years producing TV shows for CNN and ESPN. She joined Connecticut Public Media because it lets her report on her two passions, nature and animals.