08/31/07 — If you're traveling this weekend, be sure to pack patience

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If you're traveling this weekend, be sure to pack patience

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on August 31, 2007 1:45 PM

Short-distance travelers will likely fare better than long-distance flyers and drivers this Labor Day weekend, officials said.

Dave Parsons, CEO and president of AAA Carolinas, expects 149,600 from North Carolina to fly over the holiday weekend, an increase of 2.5 percent over last year, "despite reports of airline delays, long airport lines and bad service."

Eileen Conekin of All About Travel on Spence Avenue is not surprised.

People have been traveling in record numbers all year, she said.

"Lines are long, and planes are full. People traveling need to allow extra time and exercise a lot of patience," Mrs. Conekin said.

Doug Rochelle of Quixote Travels in Kinston says his agency is seeing a lot of people traveling by car for this holiday weekend.

And they're not going too far from home.

He expects the Thanks-giving weekend to see a bigger difference.

"People have been on vacation and trips during the summer months and really seem to take it easy on Labor Day weekend, with the children heading back to school," Rochelle said.

Meanwhile, gasoline prices have been dropping all summer.

Parsons compares Labor Day 2006 with it's average of $2.80 per gallon of regular unleaded to the Aug. 27 state average of $2.67.

A survey shows that those driving this weekend will probably find the most expensive gas in South Carolina at $2.63 in Myrtle Beach, while the lowest average can be found in Spartanburg at $2.456. The city with the highest gas cost in the state is Charlotte, with an average of $2.74 per gallon of regular unleaded. The lowest average is in Fayetteville at $2.603.

No construction delays are expected, officials from the N.C. Department of Trans-portation added.

Last year, North Carolina recorded 17 highway deaths, the same number as 2006.

So Smithfield Highway Patrol Sgt. Ricky Hooks is going to have three quarters of his troopers and a couple of sergeants on the roads this weekend.

"We're concentrating on Interstate 95, I-40 and U.S. 70, the major thoroughfares where the high-speed collisions occur," he said this morning.

Many motorists will be hitting the roads near the Kenanansville patrol station, too, and Sgt. Wayne Taylor is sending all his troopers to Pender County to watch out for beach travelers taking a shortcut on U.S. 17.

"U.S. 17 is one of our top collision corridors in Pender," he said this morning.

Goldsboro's patrol sergeant, B.K. Henline, agreed.

He said local troopers will be assigned "all over the county."

Parsons expects the total number of travelers over this Labor Day holiday to be flat.

And while short-distance travelers are not even on the radar screen, no matter whether long-distance travelers fly or drive, Parsons says those who stay in hotels are going to find a 3 percent higher rate for a moderately-priced hotel room for the 20 top destinations examined.