Drive or fly? What summer travel shows about economy

(CBS News) Now that the seasons are officially switching over to the warm weather months, many families start planning their getaways. Economists use these trips to monitor how our nation's financial system is doing.

AAA is not expecting a huge amount of travel on Memorial Day weekend, yet travel experts believe that this summer will have a steady, but slow, increase in people leaving on trips. This is a positive step forward from a few years ago as airlines, hotels and campgrounds are commanding higher rates and seeing more customers than a few years ago.

Sky-high summers rates: Airlines issue new fees

Charisse Jones, national business travel correspondent for USA Today, said on "CBS This Morning: Saturday" that for Memorial Day weekend they are predicting 31 million people will travel in cars, 2.3 million by air and that these travelers will go at least 50 miles form home.

With gas prices averaging around $3.65 a gallon many people are choosing to drive this weekend instead of fly.

"Gas prices have come down a lot since February so a lot of folks are choosing go closer to home to kind of save on cash and gas, but they want to get away," Jones said. "They were cooped up for so long during the recession that summertime is starting and they want to get away. So they'll drive or fly if they can get a good fare."

Driving also has an advantage over flying as many families are still suffering from stagnant wages, high rents and the end of the payroll tax holiday shrunk their take-home pay.

Summer air travel could break records

Jones estimates that airline travel will be down 8 percent this weekend because people are choosing to drive to save on the extra fees associated with flying. However, airlines are being optimistic and are predicting that they will be hitting a five-year high for the entire summer with 209 million people traveling.

For Charisse Jone 's full interview, watch the video in the player above.

  • Shoshana Davis

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