United States

Memorial Day Weekend 2024 Travel: Tips To Beat The Crowds And Avoid Traffic Jams

Memorial Day weekend 2024 is expected to see a record-breaking number of travellers, with 43.8 million Americans hitting the road or taking to the skies.

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As Memorial Day approaches, millions of Americans are gearing up for the traditional kick-off to summer, with travel plans abound. Memorial Day, a federal holiday in the United States, commemorates the men and women who have died while serving in the US military. This year, the holiday falls on May 27th, but the weekend leading up to it, May 25th to 27th is expected to witness an unprecedented surge in travel activity, according to AAA.

AAA's latest projections indicate that a staggering 43.8 million Americans are poised to embark on journeys spanning 50 miles or more over the Memorial Day weekend. This figure reflects a notable 4% increase from the previous year, nearly rivalling the record set in 2005 when 44 million travellers were recorded.

Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel, expressed astonishment at the projected numbers, stating, "We haven’t seen Memorial Day weekend travel numbers like these in almost 20 years." She further emphasized the significance of the anticipated surge, noting an additional one million travellers compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Roads and airports are expected to be bustling hubs of activity, with a historic number of road trippers anticipated since AAA began tracking data in 2000. Approximately 38.4 million drivers are expected to take to the highways, marking a 4% increase from the previous year. Simultaneously, an estimated 3.51 million airline passengers are projected to soar through the skies over the holiday weekend, representing a 4.8% uptick from 2023. This surge in air travel is expected to create the most crowded Memorial Day weekend at airports since 2005, as highlighted by AAA.

For those venturing out on Memorial Day weekend getaways, navigating the inevitable traffic snarls becomes paramount. AAA offers valuable insights into the best and worst times to travel, alongside peak congestion times in major US cities.

Most Popular Destinations:

Domestic:

  • Orlando

  • Seattle

  • New York

  • Las Vegas

  • Anaheim/Los Angeles

International:

  • Rome

  • Vancouver, Canada

  • London

  • Paris

  • Dublin

Best And Worst Times To Drive:

For those planning a getaway during Memorial Day weekend, navigating through the inevitable traffic jams requires careful planning. AAA has provided comprehensive guidance on the best times to hit the road and avoid peak congestion. Travellers departing on Thursday, May 23, and Friday, May 24, are advised to commence their journeys before 11 am or after 7 pm on Thursday and 8 pm on Friday.

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Similarly, those embarking on Saturday, May 25, are recommended to start their journey before 1 pm or after 6 pm, while Sunday travellers should aim to depart before 1 pm Returning home on Monday, May 27, offers relief from peak traffic if travellers begin their journey after 7 pm.

Despite these recommendations, certain times and routes are expected to be particularly congested. Major metropolitan areas, in particular, are likely to experience significantly longer travel times. Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst at INRIX, advised travellers to stay updated on traffic conditions through traffic apps, 511 services, and local news stations to minimize delays.

For instance, in Atlanta, the journey to Savannah via I-16 E is expected to take significantly longer, with a 54% increase in travel time on Saturday, May 25, particularly at 4:45 p.m. Similarly, travellers in Boston heading from Manchester to Boston via I-93 S on Sunday, May 26, may encounter a 50% increase in travel time around 8:45 am.

In Chicago, the route from Milwaukee to Chicago via I-94 E on Sunday, May 26, could experience a 27% increase in travel time around 4:30 pm. Meanwhile, travellers in Denver should anticipate delays on Sunday, May 26, especially at 4:15 pm when heading from Fort Collins to Denver via I-25, with a projected 56% increase in travel time.

Los Angeles commuters departing for Bakersfield via I-5 N on Thursday, May 23, at 6:15 pm may face an 84% increase in travel time, while those journeying from New York to Albany via I-87N on Thursday, May 23, at 11:45 am may experience similar delays.

In Philadelphia, travellers heading to Baltimore/DC on Friday, May 24, at 7:30 am may encounter a 64% increase in travel time, while those departing from San Francisco to Napa via I-80 E on Friday, May 24, at 11 am, may experience a 56% increase.

Washington, D.C., travellers heading to Baltimore via Balt/Wash Pkwy N on Friday, May 24, at 2:15 pm may face a 72% increase in travel time.

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