42M Americans expected to travel over Memorial Day weekend


Whether it’s by plane, train, or automobile, a staggering 42 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles over Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to the summer travel season, according to the American Automobile Association. 

AAA expects 2.7 million more people to get out of dodge for the upcoming holiday weekend than did in 2022, amounting to a 7% increase. 

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

An estimated 1.85 million people are looking to get to their destinations via public transportation like buses and trains, up 20.6% over 2022. 

The vast majority of travelers — 37.1 million — potentially face gridlock traffic when traveling by car.

That’s a 6% increase compared to last year, when the national average for gas prices cleared $4.50 per gallon.

The total is still some 500,000 fewer drivers compared with pre-pandemic levels. 

INRIX, a transportation analytics company, predicted that Friday will be the worst day for travel congestion, warning travelers to try to hit the road in the morning or in the evening after 6 p.m. 

Saturday and Sunday, meanwhile, will see the lightest traffic.

Graphs of 2023 Memorial Day Travel Forecast
2.7 million more people are expected to travel this holiday weekend compared to last year.
S&P Global Market Intelligence

Drivers cruising through major metro areas like New York will likely see travel time double. 

“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. 

Man sitting
A majority of people — 37.1 million — will travel by car to their destination this holiday weekend.
Getty Images

“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.” 

Air travel, meanwhile, is also on the rise despite soaring ticket costs, with 3.4 million expected to fly to their destination, or 11 percent more compared to last year, and will exceed pre-pandemic levels by 170,000 passengers.

Air travel is predicted to exceed pre-pandemic levels.
Getty Images

“More Americans are planning trips and booking them earlier, despite inflation,” Twidale said.

“This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports.” 

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