Memorial Day travelers return to roads and skies

Memorial Day weekend 2021 signaled a much different picture than 2020, and one that resembled normalcy with packed roads and planes.

"Our first travel since COVID!" exclaimed Andrea Hunsinger who was traveling by plane back home to San Diego from San Jose.

AAA expected more than 37 million people to travel more than 50 miles from home this Memorial Day weekend, which is up 60% from 2020.

"People want to get out for the summer and go and do all the things they missed," said Linda Johansen, who traveled to the Bay Area from Oregon to see her son.

In 2019, 5.4 million Californians traveled Memorial Day weekend.

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That number plummeted to 2.7 million during the pandemic in 2020 and was forecast to rebound to 4.5 million travelers this year.

"It's really great to get back into what I like to do which is traveling in a motorhome," said Hugh Dougherty of Santa Clara.

Memorial Day weekend marks the first time Dougherty has taken his RV out on the road since 2019. His destination was Pine Mountain Lake.

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As for those taking to the skies, air travel is also on the rise this holiday weekend compared to last year.

"The hardest thing was deciding whether or not to be vaccinated. I didn't want the vaccine, but I wanted to fly," said Johansen, who says she is now half way through her vaccination schedule.

Mineta San Jose Airport expected 58,000 passengers between Thursday, May 27 and Monday, May 31. That's six times as many passengers the airport saw in 2020, but only about half the amount of travelers seen on a normal Memorial Day weekend.

Some travelers said when they arrived at the airport, they were surprised by what they found.

"The airport wasn't as crowded as we thought. But the airlines pack us in like sardines in the plane, so that was a little surprising," said Hunsinger.