AAA projects 44 million travelers for Memorial Day weekend, gives best and worst times to hit roads

WESTWOOD, Mass. — If you are planning to hit the road for Memorial Day weekend, AAA is sharing some tips on how you might avoid the traffic.

Nearly 44 million travelers are expected to travel during Memorial Day weekend from May 23 through May 27, and AAA Northeast projects this year will be the second highest number of people traveling for the holiday weekend since it began tracking in 2000.

“We’re expecting to see plenty of traffic on the roads and in the skies this Memorial Day weekend,” AAA Northeast spokesperson Mark Schieldrop said in a statement. “We’re projecting an additional 1 million travelers this holiday weekend compared to 2019, which not only means that we’re moving beyond pandemic-era lulls but also signals a very busy summer travel season ahead.”

Road trips are expected to set a record this year. AAA projects 38.4 million people will travel by car over Memorial Day weekend, the highest number for the holiday since AAA began tracking in 2000. The number of drivers this year is up 4 percent compared to last year and 1.9 percent higher than in 2019.

Airports are also bracing for a spike in travelers: AAA expects 3.51 million air travelers this holiday weekend, an increase of 4.8 percent over last year and a 9 percent jump compared to 2019.

Nearly 2 million people are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, including buses, trains and cruises. AAA projects 1.9 million people will take these other modes of transportation, an increase of 5.6 percent over last year.

Best and Worst times to drive

According to AAA, drivers leaving Thursday or Friday should expect the heaviest traffic during the afternoon, when travelers mix with commuters, according to data from transportation analytics company INRIX. Travelers going back home on Sunday or Monday should avoid the afternoon hours when return trips will likely peak.

Best and Worst Times to travel by car, according to INRIX

Date Worst Travel Time Best Travel Time

Thursday, May 23 Noon-6 p.m. Before 11 a.m., after 7 p.m.

Friday, May 24 Noon-7 p.m. Before 11 a.m., after 8 p.m.

Saturday, May 25 2-5 p.m. Before 1 p.m., after 6 p.m.

Sunday, May 26 3-7 p.m. Before 1 p.m.

Monday, May 27 3-7 p.m. After 7 p.m.

Also, according to AAA, top travel destinations for Memorial Day weekend are theme parks and entertainment venues in Orlando, Fla.; New York City; Las Vegas; and southern California.

Seattle; Anchorage, Alaska; and Vancouver, British Columbia also rank high for visitors due to the popularity of Alaska cruises this time of year, AAA said. Florida beaches and cruise ports will also be packed.

AAA car rental partner Hertz reports that cities boasting the highest rental demand this Memorial Day weekend are Orlando, Denver, Atlanta, Boston and Las Vegas.

Boston also is among the top 10 domestic destinations for Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA: Orlando, Florida; Seattle, New York City, Las Vegas, Anaheim/Los Angeles; Denver, Anchorage, Alaska; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Miami and Boston.

On the international front, European cities dominate in popularity this Memorial Day weekend, AAA said.

The top 10 international destinations are as follows, according to AAA: Rome, Vancouver, London, Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Athens, Greece; Barcelona, Spain; St. George, Bermuda and Edinburgh, Scotland.

AAA is advising travelers who want their choice of options for summer travel to book now.

“With this year’s near record high demand, waiting too long to book can result in limited inventory and sold-out cruises, tours or direct flights,” AAA said.

Travelers who may be more flexible in their destinations, flight routes or trip timing, booking closer to departure can sometimes yield last-minute deals, AAA said. However, given higher demand this year, AAA travel advisors suggest booking summer vacations with plenty of time to ensure travelers have the best options.

AAA Northeast has offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York, providing more than 6.5 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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