By Chris Hoffman

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Travel experts say people are itching to get out of their homes.

It’s expected to be a busy weekend, with Memorial Day being the unofficial start of summer. In addition to packing sunscreen and clothes, pack some extra patience on the roads.

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The busiest days will be Thursday and Friday.

“There’s a lot of people with pent-up demand to travel somewhere, anywhere. Really just to get out of the house,” AAA East Central spokesperson Jim Garrity said over Zoom.

He said about 37 million people will hit the road to travel 50 or more miles this weekend. That’s a 60% increase from last year.

“It makes sense. Last year was the record low since AAA began tracking these numbers in 2000,” Garrity said.

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Air travel is skyrocketing. In April, the Pittsburgh International Airport saw a 1,200% increase in travelers. It is averaging about 10,000 people a day.

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“Each week, we’re seeing more and more people come through the checkpoints. So each week is breaking the record from the previous week in terms of the number of people going through the checkpoints,” Pittsburgh International Airport spokesperson Bob Kerlik said.

He said most people are headed to leisure destinations. The airport will add or return 18 popular routes over the summer.

“That’s why you’re seeing airlines come in adding a service to Florida, South Carolina. All parts of places that people are going with their families or friends on vacation destination,” Kerlik said over Zoom.

Even with the uptick in flights, driving will be the primary travel method. With a rental car shortage, it’s recommended you book sooner rather than later. While on your drive, don’t let the tank get too low.

“It’s not worth trying to get as close to E as possible. Fill up at a quarter tank. As soon as you get there, head to the nearest gas station,” Garrity said.

A big thing to remember is that masks are needed at the airport. Some airlines will resume curbside check-in over the summer and there will be some new parking options and payment methods.

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