Busting Memorial Day gas myths: What you need to know for a budget-friendly road trip

Get the truth behind Memorial Day gas myths for a budget-friendly road trip. Learn about gas prices, station traffic trends, and money-saving tips.

May 16, 2023
Busting Memorial Day gas myths: What you need to know for a budget-friendly road trip
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Busting Memorial Day gas myths: What you need to know for a budget-friendly road trip

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, the unofficial start of summer has people across the United States hitting the road for road trips or visits with family and friends. With the increased demand for fuel, there comes speculation about gas prices, the best time to fill up, and other travel-related topics. In this article, we've looked at data from over 16,000 gas stations nationwide to bust common myths about Memorial Day travel and reveal the truth behind them.

Myth #1: You'll save money if you fill up the week before Memorial Day

Answer: Fiction

Contrary to popular belief, there is no “cheapest day” for gas prices leading up to Memorial Day. Gas prices are determined by a variety of factors, including fuel supply and demand, refinery output, and geopolitical events, which means there is no particular day or time of day when gas prices are guaranteed to be lower.

As the below chart shows, prices in 2019 and 2021 were more expensive all ten days before Memorial Day, while in 2020 and 2022 were usually cheaper leading up to the holiday.

And right now, gas prices remain high for several reasons. For one, the OPEC+ production cut means there will be less gas available and could cause retailers to charge more. As we see every year, gas prices are spiking ahead of the summer travel season as refineries switch to producing more expensive, temperature-stable gas blends. 

So, as you plan for Memorial Day Weekend travel or your next road trip, be sure to budget accordingly and brace yourself for a more expensive fill-up at the pump. For example, you can use apps like Upside is a great way to stretch your dollar further by earning cash back at gas stations in your area. 

Myth #2: The busiest day at a gas station is the Friday before Memorial Day

Answer: Fact — this was true for 2019-2021 but not 2022

In recent years, the Friday before Memorial Day has been the busiest day at gas stations nationwide. This is because many people are traveling for the long weekend and need to fill up their tanks before hitting the road. However, it's worth noting that this trend may not hold true every year. For example, the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend 2022 had fewer customer visits per fuel station than the previous Friday.

It is not clear why the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend 2022 had lower-than-expected customers that day. Does that mean gas station traffic has not yet recovered from before COVID-19? Let’s explore more. 

Myth #3: Gas station traffic on Memorial Day Weekend has bounced back to pre-pandemic levels

Answer: Fact 

Upside data shows that customer visits per station on Memorial Day Weekend surpassed pre-pandemic levels for the first time last year. In 2019, the average gas station processed 1,085 visits on the Memorial Day weekend. In 2020, that number dropped to 814, as many people were staying home due to the pandemic. By 2022, traffic per station increased to 1,094, exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

While there may not be a cheapest day for gas prices leading up to Memorial Day, Upside can help you earn cash back on your gas and food purchases to make the most of your holiday weekend. Whether you're traveling to visit loved ones or just taking a fun road trip, remember to stay safe and enjoy the journey!

Busting Memorial Day gas myths: What you need to know for a budget-friendly road trip

The Upside Team

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The Upside team is made up of data scientists and industry experts who are passionate about delivering empowering content to our readers. With a focus on providing practical insights and meaningful perspectives, we create engaging materials across a wide range of topics. From exploring industry trends and offering expert analysis to sharing useful tips and inspiring ideas, our team works diligently to provide you with the information you need to thrive.

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