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The pain you feel at the pump? Bad, but not as bad as last Memorial Day

'Ouch!' you say at the pump? Perhaps. But last Memorial Day was worse, in terms of the cost of gas.

If you’re wincing at the cost of gasoline as get ready for your Memorial Day driving trip, take heart: You're not paying as much as you did last year.

Gas prices have shot up like a rocket in the last month. Californians are paying an average $3.79 a gallon for regular gas, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

In the Los Angeles/Long Beach area, we’re paying about 18 cents a gallon more than the state average, which puts us at the top of the charts. Even usually expensive San Francisco is paying less than we are, at $3.80 a gallon.

But gas prices are particularly painful now because holiday weekend travel (50 miles or more constitutes a trip, AAA says) is mostly by car: Of the 37.2 million people expected to get out of town, 33 million are expected to be driving, AAA says.

Here's the good (OK, maybe not so bad) news: You’ll pay less for a gallon of regular gas than last year, when it was $4.14 statewide and 3 cents more than that for L.A./Long Beach residents.

The chart above shows what you would pay for trips of 100, 500 and 1,000 miles. If you’re driving a sedan that gets 34 mpg, you’ll save $1.01, $5.11 and $10.21, respectively, on those trips.

Enough, at least in the latter two instances, to buy yourself a cup of coffee, which you may need to stay awake in traffic. Yes, that. Expect highways crammed with cars on Friday and Monday (surprise). To avoid them: Be counterintuitive. Leave early or late, unlike the rest of the world.

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