Memorial Day weekend travel may be busier than last year. Here's what to know

If you’re planning to take a trip for Memorial Day weekend, you may want to brace yourself for busy airports and roads.

AAA expects 42.3 million Americans to travel 50 miles ‒ or more – from their homes over the holiday weekend, the membership organization said Monday. That number is up 7% from 2022.

“This is expected to be the third busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000, when AAA started tracking holiday travel,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in a news release. “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.”

AAA’s forecast defines the Memorial Day travel period as May 25-29.

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What can travelers expect during Memorial Day weekend?

The organization predicts that more travelers will fly to their destinations this year, with close to 3.4 million traveling by air. That number is up 11% from last year. “This Memorial Day weekend could be the busiest at airports since 2005,” AAA said in the release.

The holiday is also expected to see 170,000 more flyers than in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the organization.

Road trips are up as well, with 37.1 million U.S. travelers expected to get to their destinations by car, a 6% increase from 2022.

“Gas prices are lower this holiday compared to last year, when the national average was more than $4 a gallon,” AAA said. “Despite the lower prices at the pump, car travel this holiday will be shy of pre-pandemic numbers by about 500,000 travelers.”

A predicted total of 1.85 million travelers will take other types of transportation, such as trains and buses, up nearly 21% from last year.

What are the best times to drive for Memorial Day?

INRIX, which works with AAA on holiday travel projections, expects roads will be busiest on Friday, May 26.

The best times to travel by car on Thursday, May 25, and Friday are before 1 p.m. and noon, respectively, while the worst times are between 3 and 6 p.m, according to the transportation data and insights provider.

Traffic is likely to be lightest on Saturday, May 27, and Sunday, May 28, with minimal impacts.

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The best time to travel by car on Monday, May 29, is before 10 a.m., while the worst time is between noon and 3 p.m.

Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, said drivers can expect significant delays, particularly in and around major metropolitan areas, as travelers and commuters mix.

“Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic,” he said in the release. “Our advice is to avoid driving during peak hours or use alternative routes.”

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at