Traveling over Memorial Day weekend? Here’s how much gas will cost

Afternoon rush hour traffic.
Afternoon rush hour traffic on North County San Diego. The Auto Club of Southern California expects plenty of cars and trucks on the road this Memorial Day weekend.
(The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Auto Club expects volume to be the fourth-highest on record in Southern California.


Gas prices may be at an all-time high but expect some clogged roads and highways this Memorial Day weekend, the traditional kick-off of the summer driving season.

AAA of Southern California predicts the fourth-busiest Memorial Day in terms of travel volume for Southern California.

“Between Thursday May 26th to Monday May 30th, we project 2.6 million SoCal residents that will be taking road trips,” said Auto Club spokesperson Anlleyn Venegas.

That’s 11 percent higher than last year, even though the average price of regular-grade gasoline in San Diego set a new record earlier this week of $6.03 per gallon. Statewide, the average price is $6.07, according to AAA.

“Even though gas prices are at historic levels, traveling by auto is still the cheapest mode of transportation, especially for bigger families,” Venegas said.

After a few weeks of relative stability, gas prices have surged. In San Diego, the past month has seen an increase of 39 cents per gallon.

Nationally, the average price for regular on Thursday stood at $4.60, the highest ever recorded by AAA. That’s up 47 cents compared to one month ago.

“There’s a number of different factors but the main reason why prices are going up is a reduction in supply and a rise in demand,” Venegas said.

The price of oil is linked to the price of gasoline and production of U.S. crude is about 11.9 million barrels per day these days, which is more than 1 million barrels below pre-pandemic levels. And about half of all the oil supplying California refineries comes from foreign countries and the Russian invasion of Ukraine has strained global supplies of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

The world’s third-largest producer of crude oil, Russia accounts for about 12 percent of global supplies.

On Thursday the futures price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate — the benchmark price for domestic crude oil — rose to $114.09. That’s an increase of $15 in 17 days.

Nonetheless, 39.2 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home over the Memorial Day weekend.

“People are overdue for a vacation and they are looking to catch up on some much-needed R&R in the coming months,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president at AAA Travel.

In addition to driving, about 320,000 Southern Californians are expected to fly over the weekend and another 165,000 will travel by bus, train or take a cruise.