Whether you’re flying or driving, the summer travel season is going to be crowded.
AAA is forecasting the second busiest Memorial Day weekend on record. More than 38 million Americans are expected to travel, the most since 2005. AAA says 89 percent of holiday travelers, nearly 34 million people, will drive to their Memorial Day destinations.
“The great American road trip is officially back thanks to low gas prices, and millions of people from coast to coast are ready to kick off summer with a Memorial Day getaway.” — AAA President and CEO Marshall Doney
Gas prices are at their lowest levels in 11 years, according to AAA. The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.27, and gas prices continue to remain nearly 50 cents per gallon cheaper than last year. Though demand for gas will increase as the summer driving season begins, AAA expects Memorial Day gas prices to be at their cheapest since 2005.
The spike in people driving is consistent with travelers taking to the skies. Airlines for America is projecting a record number of Americans flying this summer, more than 2.5 million passengers each day. Fliers are already experiencing hour-plus lines to get through airport security, and those waits will increase as summer travel officially begins.
If you are traveling on Memorial Day weekend, prepare for congested highways and crowded airports. The best way to avoid crowds is to travel at off-peak times. Most travelers will depart on Friday, May 27, and return on Monday, May 30. If your plans permit, consider traveling on Thursday evening, and stay an extra day at your destination and return on Tuesday.
Drivers should download the proper apps before hitting the road. To plan the best route, download a navigation app such as Google Maps or Waze, which show real-time traffic conditions and offer alternative routes. The GasBuddy app shows you where to find the cheapest gas.
Fliers should arrive early at the airport and prepare for security. Check the My TSA app (for Apple and Android devices) to ensure you’re not packing any prohibited items, wear slip-on shoes that come on and off easily, and avoid bringing liquids in your carry-on bags or place them in an outer pocket that’s easy to access.
Top Memorial Day Destinations
Just where are Americans headed this holiday? Beaches and big cities are the top draws for travelers. According to AAA, the most popular destinations on Memorial Day weekend are:
- Myrtle Beach
- Washington, D.C.
- New York
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
- South Padre Island