More Marylanders expected to travel for Labor Day weekend this year

August 29, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • Traffic moves along Interstate 70 Wednesday near Halfway.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Labor Day might be an American holiday, but Hagerstown resident Jack Martin, who has traveled to every state in the country except for North Dakota, will be leaving the country for part of the holiday weekend with his wife.

“We’re going to Nova Scotia (in Canada) to see the Bay of Fundy,” he said. “We’re going up to New Hampshire, check in there, and then we’re going to drive from there up into Maine, and go across and drive the back side into Nova Scotia.”

Martin, 72, will be one of about 659,000 Marylanders projected to travel at least 50 miles round trip away from home during Labor Day weekend, according to a news release from AAA online at

More than 571,00 of those traveling are expected to do so by automobile, which Martin, who travels frequently, said he does not mind doing.

“It’s very relaxing, and I like to drive,” he said. “Our goal is to see every state in the United States.”

The number of Marylanders expected to travel this Labor Day weekend is expected to increase by 3 percent from last year, despite gas being 17 cents higher on average than a year ago in the state at $3.71, according to the AAA news release.

The Labor Day travel period is defined as Thursday to Monday.

Many of the people traveling will be heading to the beach, Maryland State Highway Administration spokesperson Charlie Gischlar said.

“Memorial Day and Labor Day are very much beach holidays,” Gischlar said. “There’s going to be heavy traffic on major routes.”

The amount of people traveling to the beach has caused a spike in different businesses around the city this week, including tanning salons.

Jennie Khun, manager at Hollywood Tans in Hagerstown, said many customers come in the week leading up to Labor Day.

“Normally in the summertime, it kind of slows down, but in the week leading up to Labor Day, we see an influx in customers,” she said. “We’ve also seen more mystic spray tans because that way, you can get an instant tan before you get ready to leave for your holiday.”

Melissa Linn of Hagerstown had just finished tanning before talking about her plans to go to the shore in New Jersey this weekend to see family.

“I hate traveling Labor Day weekend because of traffic, but we haven’t been to visit,” she said. “It’s also time away from the office.”

Linn, 40, said she plans to leave at 3 a.m. Saturday to avoid traffic, and she plans to head back at midnight Sunday.

To accommodate traffic, the SHA will suspend nonemergency roadwork on the major routes across the state Friday through Monday, Gischlar said. Crews will be set up to assist motorists who are having trouble.

Gischlar said people should make sure they are prepared for heavy traffic and exercise caution.

“Leave early and stay late if you can,” he said. “Also make sure you’ve got fuel, check your tires, and don’t drink and drive.”

In addition to the people projected to travel by automobile this weekend, about 52,200 people are projected to travel by air and another 35,100 are expected to travel by other modes, including bus, train and watercraft, according to AAA. The 52,200 projected air travelers represent a 3.6 percent increase from last year, 0.5 percent larger than the increase in automobile travelers.

Hagerstown Regional Airport Director Phil Ridenour said an Allegiant flight leaving from there Friday at 11:25 a.m. for Orlando Sanford International Airport in Florida is nearly booked.

“Friday’s flight will probably fill up,” he said. “We see a big increase in the Allegiant flight for Labor Day weekend.”

The Cape Air flights to Baltimore, however, are normal so far, Ridenour said.

“A lot of that is used by business travelers, not leisure travelers,” he said. “We don’t see a huge increase there on holidays.”

Not everybody will be traveling 50 miles or more this weekend, however.

Hancock resident Marie Shaw, 74, will be staying home and cross the river Sunday to Cacapon State Park in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., for a picnic with her family.

“I never travel far for Labor Day because of money, and I don’t like all the traffic,” she said. “We just have an enjoyable time at the picnic.”

Marylanders are expected to travel an average 483 miles round trip this weekend, according to the AAA news release. That is 143 miles less than the nationwide average for holiday travel.

A total of 43 percent of travelers plan to travel between 50 and 400 miles round trip, according to AAA.

Clear Spring resident Kayla Hensley, 20, is traveling to Frostburg, Md., to stay with a friend at Frostburg State University.

“We are going to have a picnic, look at the school and maybe go to a football game,” she said. “I’m just going to have to deal with the traffic. There’s no back ways to go, and I have to leave Friday around rush hour.”

More than 33 million Americans overall are expected to travel more than 50 miles away from home this year, according to another AAA news release.

Although there is potential for Hurricane Isaac to impact Maryland travelers, most travel plans have already been made, according to the news release. Travelers are advised to keep an eye on the weather, since forecasts can change quickly.

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