The Best and Worst Times to Drive on Memorial Day Weekend (Video)
As the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day weekend is always a busy one for travel. As it should be a weekend for a bit of rest and relaxation, it's a great idea to plan ahead of time for avoiding holiday traffic.
According to AAA, about 43 million Americans are expected to travel this weekend. That number, AAA noted, will mark the second-highest travel volume on record since it began tracking holiday travel volumes dating back to 2000 (trailing only the record set in 2005).
Compared to last year, an additional 1.5 million people will take to the nation’s roads, rails and runways. The vast majority of those holiday makers will be driving to their destinations.
“Americans are eagerly anticipating the start of summer, and expensive gas prices won’t keep them home this Memorial Day weekend,” Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel, said in a statement. “Families continue to prioritize spending their disposable incomes on travel, and near-record numbers of them are looking forward to doing just that for Memorial Day.”
Memorial Day motorists should expect significant travel delays on major roads, according to INRIX, a global transportation analytics company. In fact, travelers could spend more than three times longer than normal during evening commutes.
When not to drive this Memorial Day Weekend
The late afternoons and evenings of Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24 will likely be the worst times to travel as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers, according to INRIX.
“Drivers in the most congested metros should expect much worse conditions than normal,” Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX, said in a statement. “Travelers should anticipate delays to start on Wednesday and continue through Memorial Day. Our advice to drivers is to avoid the morning and evening commuting times or plan alternate routes.”
On the East Coast, the worst times vary depending on the city. In New York City, the worst estimated time for travel will be Thursday from 4:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., and Atlanta's worst time will be Thursday 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. In both Boston and D.C., the worst estimated time will be Monday from 3:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.
In Chicago and Detroit, the worst estimated time will be Friday afternoon, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Chicago, and 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Detroit. In Houston, the worst traffic is expected on Sunday, from 2:15 to 4:15 p.m.
In San Francisco, drivers could see the worst traffic on Saturday, between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. And in Los Angeles, Friday afternoon from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. is expected to be the worst.
Wherever you're headed, it's a good idea to leave early on Thursday if possible to avoid the worst traffic.
If you’re still on the hunt for where to go, here are 10 destinations worthy of your this Memorial Day Weekend that won’t come with lengthy travel delays.