“Pack your patience,” warned Cathleen Lewis, Director of Public Affairs for AAA New Jersey Automobile Club. An estimated 840,300 New Jersey residents are expected to travel 50 miles or more by automobile during the upcoming holiday weekend.

Folks in New Jersey and across the nation aren’t letting a recent spike in gas prices, or the sluggish economy, affect their last chance for summer fun. Nationwide, 33 million people will be traveling 50 miles or more from home. For the first time since 2008, more than one million New Jersey residents will take a lengthy trip, when considering all modes of transportation.

“In New Jersey, it’s a 1.9% increase over last year,” Lewis added.

Nationally, 2012′s number represents a nearly 3% jump from last year.

Still, travelers are increasingly looking for ways to economize on their trips. Instead of staying at a hotel, they may choose to lodge with a friend or family member. Instead of ordering dinner at a five-star restaurant, meals may be store-bought at a fraction of the price.

“A lot of that has to do with finding little ways to cut back, to make up for the price of gas as we see it continue to rise a little bit,” Lewis said.

Travelers can expect gas prices this holiday weekend that are slightly higher than Labor Day last year. In 2011, the average cost for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.52. Prices at the pump have risen recently due to uncertainty surrounding Hurricane Isaac’s potential impact on Gulf Coast refineries.

Consumer confidence dipped unexpectedly to its lowest level in nine months, the Conference Board announced Tuesday. New Jersey’s Labor Day Weekend travel projections suggest folks in the Garden State have a brighter outlook than out-of-state residents.

Lewis added, “Some of (the travel increase) is due to confidence that things are getting better. Some of it is, ‘I’m not going to wait to start enjoying myself.’”