RDU officials are anticipating nearly a 35% increase in passengers over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, higher than the national bump AAA is predicting.
"Today and Monday will be the busiest days. We expect to see about 37,700 passengers today and Monday, so definitely very busy days today and coming up," said Stephanie Hawco, the director of media relations at RDU.
AAA expects nearly 40 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from their home through the course of the weekend; however, severe weather wreaked havoc on many travel plays Friday, with FlightAware reporting 30 flights in and out of RDU were cancelled, and more than 100 others delayed.
"Pack your patience and be flexible. And I cannot reiterate that enough," said Jody Mahoney, a travel representative with Go Now Travel Company.
The heavy travel comes in the midst of rising gas prices and inflation, though there are ways for people to stretch their budgets.
Jody Mahoney/Travel Representative - Go Now Travel Company
"I always like the idea of an all-inclusive resort for folks because there's so many different levels of those in so many different locations. There are more all-inclusive (options) than ever before," Mahoney said.
"Book early is the real key to saving. But travel is usually lighter on Tuesday and Wednesday's, and usually on Saturday, but during the vacation season Saturday's book up heavily as well. There are actual discount airline seats seven days of the week, but in order to do that, I emphasize again - book early," added Howard Panel, owner and president of Travel Source Inc.
While hotel occupancy has largely not been a hurdle, securing a rental car can be a challenge.
"They sold off approximately 70% of their total fleet so they are dramatically trying to recover from that," said Panel.
Airport officials are urging people to prepare ahead of time, by arriving early. RDU offers the option to secure parking online for a reduced rate; as of Friday afternoon, the Premier and Central lots were both 90% occupied, while economy was completely full.
"I did get to the airport earlier. Because I've seen long lines through TSA and people, checking in at the ticket counters. There's been a lot of long lines," said Michelle Crozier, who is in town visiting family.
Both Mahoney and Panel note the upticks in interest are evident, and likely to continue throughout the summer.
"People are eager to go and see and do," said Panel.
"People just feeling more confident. They've not only been vaccinated, but boosted and just overall feeling like things are getting back to normal," Mahoney added.