AAA Northern New England projects 1.9 New Englanders will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Memorial Day weekend, a 6.3% increase from last year. Nationwide, AAA projects 42.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, a 7% increase over 2022. The Memorial Day travel period is defined as five days from Thursday, May 25 to Monday, May 29. The expected travel volume for the unofficial start of summer is a sign of what’s to come in the months ahead.
“This is expected to be the third busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000, when AAA started tracking holiday travel,” said Pat Moody, manager of public affairs for AAA Northern New England. This is a good time of year to remind everyone to wear their safety belt.”
This holiday period also kicks off NHTSA’s annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign” to encourage drivers and passengers to buckle up, reminding everyone that safety belts save lives. According to their latest data nearly half of all vehicle passengers killed on U.S. roads in 2021 were not wearing a seat belt -- the highest number in 10 years. Of the 26,325 vehicle fatalities during 2021, 11,813 were unrestrained.
New England Memorial Day Travel Forecast
- Automobiles: 1.79 million will travel by automobile, a increase of 6 percent.
- Planes: Holiday air travel is expected to increase 8.9 percent to 154,000 leisure travelers.
- Trains, Buses, Rails and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 11.3 percent to 22,000 passengers.
Nationwide Travel Forecast
- Automobiles: 37.1 million will travel by automobile, a increase of 6.2 percent.
- Planes: Holiday air travel is expected to increase 11 percent to 3.39 million leisure travelers.
- Trains, Buses, Rails and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 20.6 percent to 1.85 million passengers.
Best/Worst Times to Travel and Peak Congestion by Metro
INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, expects Friday, May 26 to be the busiest day on the roads during the long Memorial Day weekend. The best times to travel by car are in the morning or evening after 6 p.m. The lightest traffic days will be Saturday and Sunday. Major metro areas like Boston, New York, Seattle, and Tampa will likely see travel times double compared to normal.
“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. “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.”
AAA booking data for the Memorial Day weekend shows tourist hotspots like Orlando, New York City, and Las Vegas are top domestic destinations. Cruise port cities in Florida and Alaska, as well as Seattle, are high on the list given the 50% increase in domestic cruise bookings compared to last year. Other popular U.S. cities this Memorial Day include Denver, Boston, Anaheim, and Canton, Ohio – home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“We are seeing a demand for iconic cities, international vacation packages, and cruises with included amenities that provide more value for the price,” Moody added.
Travelers are paying more for Memorial Day trips this year, in large part due to the rising cost of airline tickets. AAA booking data shows a 40% increase in airfare to this year’s Top Destinations. But that’s not stopping travelers from booking flights abroad. International travel is surging with bookings 250% higher this holiday weekend compared to 2022. European cities are the most popular, including Rome, Paris, Dublin, London, Barcelona, and Athens. International car rentals are up more than 80% over 2022. AAA reports strong sales for International Driving Permits this year, almost double what they were last year. The passport courier service RushMyPassport is also seeing an unprecedented number of applications for expedited passport and visa services this year.
Started in 1902 by automotive enthusiasts who wanted to chart a path for better roads in America and advocate for safe mobility, AAA has transformed into one of North America’s largest membership organizations. Today, AAA provides roadside assistance, travel, discounts, financial and insurance services to enhance the life journey of over 63 million members across North America, including 56 million in the United States. To learn more about all AAA has to offer or to become a member, visit AAA.com.