PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Thursday is expected to be a busy day on the road as it’s the beginning of the holiday travel rush. According to AAA, nearly two million Floridians will be hopping in the car to get away for Memorial Day Weekend.
The parking lot at the rest stop just off I-75 in Pasco County was full from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. Thursday with people sleeping in their cars and trucks, trying to get a jumpstart on their travels.
But after a year-long pandemic, experts say it’s possible some drivers neglected their cars. AAA recommends checking your tire pressure, oil and gas tank before hitting the road. They also noted you shouldn’t leave home without an emergency kit, snacks and disinfectant spray.
Experts at the federation predict 60% more travelers this Memorial Day than last year, but still 6 million fewer than pre-pandemic numbers. They said more than nine in 10 travelers will drive, and Orlando is one of the top destinations in the country, meaning more traffic than usual along I-4 this weekend.
Data suggests the busiest times – and the best to avoid being on the road – are Thursday and Friday afternoon. That’s when you can expect the longest delays, sometimes double the normal travel times.
On average, when filling up your tank in Florida, you can expect gas to cost you about $2.87 a gallon, according to AAA.
AAA said it’s good practice to fuel up when you arrive at your destination so you’re not on empty before heading home. They expect to rescue 468,000 Americans roadside this weekend.
“I checked my tire pressure, checked the oil, already checked the radiator,” Gil and DeDe Beemer said.
They are traveling from Sarasota to Tennessee to see their daughter and son-in-law for the weekend.
“We wanted to avoid traffic going through Atlanta, but we like traveling in the night, early morning. We got up early so we could hopefully beat the traffic,” Beemer said.
The Beemers said they woke up at 2 a.m. Thursday to get on the road in hopes of beating the holiday rush.