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Travel forecast for Memorial Day weekend: Busiest travel times, destinations

Traffic Backup
Posted at 8:56 AM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 10:57:13-04

WISCONSIN — Memorial Day weekend has arrived, and the American Automobile Association is predicting that 39.2 million people will travel 50 miles or more for the unofficial start of summer.

They say traffic volumes will be very similar to that of 2017, and air travel is continuing to rebound.

“Memorial Day is always a good predictor of what’s to come for summer travel,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “Based on our projections, summer travel isn’t just heating up, it will be on fire. People are overdue for a vacation and they are looking to catch up on some much-needed R&R in the coming months.”

Ahead of the big travel weekend, AAA shared some numbers on the busiest travel times and locations across the country. So, if you're planning to head out of town for the weekend, there are a few things you may want to know.

AAA is predicting 34.9 million people will travel by car this weekend, while 3.01 million will take to the skies. 1.33 million are expected to find other forms of transportation this weekend, like on a bus, train, or cruise ship.

2022 Memorial Day Holiday Travelers

TotalAutomobileAir

Other

(Bus, Train, Cruise)

2022 (Forecast)39.2M34.9M3.01M1.33M
2021 (Actual)36.2M33.4M2.41M440,000
2019 (Actual)42.8M37.6M3.22M1.90M
Change (2019 to 2022)-8.2%-7.3%-6.3%-29.6%
Change (2021 to 2022)8.3%4.6%25%199.9%

With these large numbers, AAA had a few tips: Arrive at the airport two hours early, or three hours for international flights. Consider booking flights during non-peak travel periods to cut down on wait times, hit the road when there's less traffic, and allow extra time to get to your destination.

If you are booking a flight, try to avoid leaving on a Saturday, as that is the most expensive day to travel, according to AAA. Instead, try to fly on Mondays, the cheapest travel day.

If you want to get out of town, but don't want to go somewhere super busy, AAA has a list of locations that are expected to be the busiest this weekend. A list of places to avoid.

U.S DestinationsInternational Destinations
Orlando, FLVancouver, Canada
Seattle, WADublin, Ireland
Miami, FLParis, France
Las Vegas, NVRome, Italy
Anaheim, CALondon, England
New York, NYCancun, Mexico
Denver, COAmsterdam, Netherlands
Anchorage, AKBarcelona, Spain
Boston, MANassau, Bahamas
Honolulu, HICalgary, Canada

AAA also looked at the busiest roads for those who may be traveling across the country to visit family, or just to get away.

If you find yourself heading to or through Chicago, you should try to avoid I-290 E from IL-110 to Racine Avenue between the hours of 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., as that's when it will be busiest, according to AAA.

Travel through that area is expected to be 131% higher than normal.

If you are heading towards Michigan, specifically Detroit, avoid I-96 W from 6 Mile Road to Walled Lake between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., as it will be the busiest during those times. AAA said travel through that area will be 65% higher than normal.

Worst Corridors and Times to Travel

Metro AreaCorridorPeak Congestion% Over Normal
AtlantaI-85 S, Clairmont Rd to MLK Dr5/26/22, 3:30-5:30pm128%
BostonI-93 S, Purchase St to MA-245/26/22, 2:30-4:30pm110%
ChicagoI-290 E, IL-110 to Racine Ave5/26/22, 3:30-5:30pm131%
DetroitI-96 W, 6 Mile Rd to Walled Lake5/27/22, 3:00-5:00pm65%
HoustonI-69 N, I-610 to I-105/27/22, 4:45-6:45pm88%
Los AngelesI-5 S, Colorado St to Florence Ave5/27/22, 4:45-6:45pm123%
New YorkI-278 W, Long Island Express to 39th St5/26/22, 3:15-5:15pm161%
San FranciscoI-80 W, Gilman St to Civic Center5/26/22, 5:45-7:45pm105%
SeattleI-5 S, WA-18 to WA-75/27/22, 5:00-7:00pm112%
Washington DCI-95 S, I-495 to VA-1235/26/22, 3:45-5:45pm77%

AAA also provided a general list of the worst and best times to travel each day of the week. If you're leaving Thursday, the best time to travel is before 6 a.m. and after 9 p.m. The worst time to travel on Thursday is between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Leaving Friday? Your best options are to hit the road before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Travel will be the worst between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m.

If you're coming back from your Memorial Day weekend on Monday, try and travel before 11 a.m. If you can't get out on the roads before then, at least try to avoid traveling between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Daily Worst and Best Times to Travel

DayWorst TimeBest Time
Thursday1:00-8:00pmBefore 6:00am or After 9:00pm
Friday12:00-7:00pmBefore 7:00am or After 9:00pm
Saturday1:00-6:00pmBefore 10:00am
Sunday1:00-4:00pmBefore 10:00am
Monday1:00-4:00pmBefore 11:00am

AAA is also reminded travelers to remain safe and patient. They said everyone has a common goal, to get to their destination safely. Have patience, and plan extra time to avoid stress and lack of patience.