A busy spring travel season at coastal areas led travel and tourism experts to set high expectations for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
"Everyone's excited to see the uptick in visitors this spring and optimistic that will continue into the summer," said Charlie Clark, a Hilton Head Island, S.C., visitor bureau spokeswoman.
Compared with the same weekend in 2010, visitors to the beach have increased, Clark said. Hotels, villa rentals and restaurants will be at capacity, she said.
Georgia's Savannah and Tybee Island still have some hotel and rental availability for last-minute travelers, said Joseph Marinelli, the president of Visit Savannah.
The spring tourist season in the Savannah area brought record-breaking hotel tax revenue for February, March and April, Marinelli said.
"We're keeping our fingers crossed that that will continue," he said.
"No vacancy" signs should be a familiar sight at Myrtle Beach, S.C., where Sen. John McCain will be the Memorial Day parade's grand marshal.
Many vacationers planned to cut short their trips and stay fewer days in hotels to compensate for higher fuel prices, said Kimberly Miles, a Myrtle Beach convention and visitors bureau spokeswoman.
"Our area is primarily a drive-to destination," Miles said.
A slight decrease in the number of people traveling by car is not as sharp as expected, given gas prices about $1 higher than last year, according to AAA Auto Club South. Fuel prices are predicted to fall a few more cents before the weekend.
Air travelers for the weekend will spike by 11.5 percent this year, and AAA attributed the increase to more travelers having higher incomes.
Sarita Cross, of Augusta, has a trip to San Diego planned with her husband and two children.
"We got a good price on airfare, and we are staying with family," Cross said.
Cross planned the trip two months ago using Priceline for plane tickets, and she said staying with relatives helped offset the costs. "If we weren't going to San Diego," she said, "we would go someplace else to escape the hot weather."
Lauren Kerbelis, an agent for Southern Travel Agency, said planning helped customers take advantage of low prices on cruises.
"There isn't a rush this week. People already know what they're doing," Kerbelis said.