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The best and worst times to travel this Memorial Day weekend

Jeanie Ahn
Senior Producer/Reporter

Memorial Day Weekend is here and a lot of travelers are looking to get a jump on things. Of the 43 million Americans with travel plans over the long weekend, 37.6 million will be hitting the road, according to AAA forecasts.

“Americans are eagerly anticipating the start of summer, and expensive gas prices won’t keep them home this Memorial Day weekend,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel.

What drivers can expect

AAA expects this weekend to hit record levels – as the second-highest travel volume on record since the year 2000 – resulting from strong consumer sentiment and a strong job market, despite the fact that gas prices are going up.

Delays and congestion will begin as early as Wednesday afternoon -- particularly in metro areas.

AAA and INRIX congestion forecasts for Memorial Day Weekend

The worst times to drive: Thursday and Friday after work. Coming home, you might want to rethink stretching out your weekend to the very end, as traffic will be rough on Monday afternoon between 3:45 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Driving navigation apps like Waze can certainly help plan those alternate routes and dodge traffic, but there’s not much you can do to beat traffic as many savvy drivers will be attempting to do the same thing.

What fliers can expect

Airlines are expecting a whopping 15.5 million passengers to take off between Thursday and Monday – or about 3.4 million travelers a day over the course of the weekend, according to Hopper. Friday alone is expected to see 3.36 million passengers.

Hopper's forecast for Memorial Day Weekend

The busiest airports are going to be Atlanta, Chicago, L.A. and Dallas, with their peak times coming Friday morning, though the exact worst times vary from airport to airport.

Hopper rankings on the busiest airports for Friday during Memorial Day weekend

So if you’re flying out on Friday, make sure to add in some extra time to your trip to account for long lines and other delays. And remember: most traffic congestion peaks between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. at domestic airports.

Jeanie Ahn is a senior reporter and producer at Yahoo Finance, covering personal finance and women in business. Follow her on Twitter @jeanie531.


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