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Over 40 million Americans expected to travel Memorial Day Weekend

Friday, May 26, will be the busiest day to travel with the lightest travel days being Saturday and Sunday.
Posted at 1:55 PM, May 15, 2023

This Memorial Day Weekend is expected to be the busiest for travel in four years, as AAA predicts it will be near record levels. 

According to AAA, 42.3 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles during the Memorial Day Weekend, marking a 7% increase from a year ago. It is expected to be the third-busiest Memorial Day Weekend for travel since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000. 

The increased travel comes as gas prices are considerably lower than this time a year ago. On Monday, a gallon of regular gas averaged $3.53 a gallon. This time a year ago, the average was $4.47.

“More Americans are planning trips and booking them earlier, despite inflation. This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. 

Out of 42.3 million travelers, most will use four wheels to get to their destination. AAA estimates that 37.1 million travelers will make it to their destination by car, compared to 3.39 who will fly and 1.85 million who’ll use other means of transportation. 

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Although the number of people getting to their destination by car is expected to be down by 1% compared to 2019 figures, air travel is expected to increase by 5.4% between 2019 and 2023. This is despite rising airfare, AAA said. 

AAA projects that Friday, May 26, will be the busiest day to travel with the lightest travel days being Saturday and Sunday. Experts project drive times could be nearly double in New York, Boston, Seattle and Tampa on May 26.

“With lower fuel prices and more travelers on the road compared to last year, drivers should expect long delays this holiday weekend, especially in and around major metros as commuters mix with Memorial Day travelers,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic. Our advice is to avoid driving during peak hours or use alternative routes.” 

AAA recommends if you travel on Thursday, May 25, or Friday May 26, to do so before the early afternoon rush.