Holiday travel begins; beaches open

May 27, 2011

(WBEZ/Susie An)

About 1.8 million people in Illinois will be traveling this Memorial Day weekend. That's up slightly from last year, though, the big increase is in air travel. AAA spokeswoman Beth Mosher says air travel is up by 12 percent from last Memorial Day. She says people are more confident about their money.

"Aside from gas prices, all other economic conditions are positive as compared to 2010. People are feeling more stable in their job situation. They have more disposable income to work with. And so they're back out and traveling. They're traveling by air this weekend. They're taking some great trips to some great places," Mosher says.

Illinois gas prices are averaging just over $4 a gallon. Mosher says that doesn't seem to be stopping people from taking to the roads, either. People are expected to travel an average of 792 miles over this holiday weekend.

For those sticking around town, Chicago's beaches are officially open. But today might be a little too chilly for a swim in Lake Michigan.

Zvezdana Kubat is a spokeswoman for the Chicago Park District.
 
"We had our beach comers out this morning, early starting at 4 AM going to all 24 designated swim beaches and cleaning the beaches. These combers go through and pick up any debris, turn over the sand to get it ready for all the folks that will be out there," she said.
 
Kubat says the beaches are expected to be crowded on Memorial Day when temperatures could hit the 90s.