FILE- Illinois roads

(The Center Square) – After a year of limited travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, residents of Illinois are planning to hit the road this Memorial Day weekend.

More than 1.8 million people in Illinois are planning some sort of trip for the holiday weekend with 1.7 million of those people planning to travel by car.

Molly Hart of AAA, advised residents to fill up once they get to their destination to avoid higher gas prices in Illinois.

Average gas prices in Illinois are among the highest in the country. Last Memorial Day, gas prices were $2.23 per gallon compared to $3.22 this year.

While gas prices are higher, Hart said there are several factors at play.

"Gas prices are going to be high this weekend. Historically gas in the summer is more expensive due to the summer blend cars use. We also need to recognize last year was an outlier." Hart said.

The best counties to fill up this weekend based on price are Effingham County, Saline County, and Morgan County because they have the cheapest prices, according to the AAA website. The highest prices are in Cook, Will, and DuPage counties.

According to Vrbo, a vacation rental home website, 82 percent of American families already have vacation plans and Vrbo users created 15.7 million Trip Boards this spring alone.

The most popular destinations for Illinois residents this year to travel to by car according to Molly Hart and AAA are Orlando, Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach and Denver.

With the number of Illinois residents who already have travel plans, this Memorial Day weekend could be a return to normalcy for many.

The Illinois Department of Transportation said it would open up as many lanes as possible to accommodate the number of drivers planning to hit the highways. Law enforcement agencies also are expected to out in force during the busy travel weekend.

Staff Reporter

Andrew Hensel has years of experience as a reporter and pre-game host for the Joliet Slammers, and as a producer for the Windy City Bulls. A graduate of Iowa Wesleyan University and Illinois Media School, Andrew lives in the south suburbs of Chicago.