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Over 40 million Americans will be traveling for Memorial Day: Here’s how you can prepare

Here’s what you should know ahead of what’s expected to be one of the busiest weekends for Memorial Day travel yet

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Memorial Day 2023 is expected to bring a record-breaking busy travel weekend. Here’s how travelers can prepare.

Memorial Day 2023 is expected to bring a record-breaking busy travel weekend. Here’s how travelers can prepare.

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According to the AAA’s Memorial Day 2023 travel report, the post-pandemic summer travel boom is showing no signs of slowing down. Over Memorial Day weekend of 2023, AAA predicts that 42.3 million Americans will be traveling at least 50 miles from home over the holiday weekend.

Even though a busy holiday weekend is on the forecast, travelers can still make smart and efficient moves to ensure the best Memorial Day travel possible. Here’s what travelers should know before hitting the road this month.

Air travel: AAA says that 3.4 million travelers are expected to get to their destinations by plane, an increase of 11% from last year and 5.4% more than in 2019. The holiday weekend is expected to be the busiest airport weekend since 2005.

Booking morning flights is likely to result in a higher flight success rate, according to CNN. Nonstop flights are also more likely to be completed without delays or disruptions.

After observing TSA data from the week of Memorial Day for the past two years, NerdWallet found that the Friday before the holiday and the Sunday after were the busiest travel days over Memorial Day weekend, followed by the Thursday before the holiday and the Friday after.

Although Memorial Day flights are likely already booked, if traveling on the busiest days, flyers should arrive at the airport early to allow time for long TSA lines. It may also help to brush up on TSA guidelines and ensure your luggage and belongings are properly prepared before getting to the airport. The slowest holiday travel days are expected to be the Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday before Memorial Day, and the Wednesday, Saturday, and Tuesday after the holiday, per NerdWallet.

Road travel: Friday, May 26, is expected to be the busiest day on the road, according to AAA, and the lightest days will be Saturday and Sunday. If traveling on Friday, drivers should allow extra time for traffic delays, especially around major metros and popular travel destinations.

The worst times to travel by car are Thursday and Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. before the holiday. After the holiday, roads are expected to be busiest on Monday, May 29, from noon to 3 p.m., and Tuesday from 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

To avoid traffic on the way to your holiday travel destination, AAA says the best time to hit the road is in the morning, preferably before noon. After Memorial Day, AAA predicts roads will be clearest on Monday before 10 a.m. and on Tuesday before 2 p.m. and after 6 p.m.

The metro areas that are expected to have the biggest travel delays, according to AAA, are Boston, New York City, Seattle and Tampa. Road-trippers can watch local traffic data to monitor road delays. It may also be helpful to explore alternate routes to destinations that might not be as heavily trafficked.

If traveling within a city over the weekend, taking public transit or carpooling may also allow travelers to beat or ease the traffic — just be aware of holiday schedules.

National parks: For those itching to get outside, a national park may be on the holiday weekend travel itinerary. However, it’s important to be prepared for crowds and know of any reservation systems in place at the parks.

According to Travel in USA, the following parks require reservations to enter:

  • Arches National Park.
  • Zion National Park.
  • Yosemite National Park.
  • Acadia National Park.
  • Glacier National Park.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Shenandoah National Park.
  • Haleakala National Park.
  • Red Rock Canyon National Park.

Within some of these parks, certain trails, roads or landmarks may have a reservation or permit system in place. Before arriving at a park, travelers should see if their planned destinations have any requirements upon entry.

For last-minute travel planners, it may be helpful to know which parks will be busiest. According to CNN, the following parks are the busiest in the country, and will likely be crowded over the holiday weekend. If traveling to any of these parks, expect crowds, and allow plenty of time for delays.

Busiest national parks:

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  2. Grand Canyon National Park.
  3. Zion National Park.
  4. Rocky Mountain National Park.
  5. Acadia National Park.
  6. Yosemite National Park.
  7. Yellowstone National Park.
  8. Joshua Tree National Park.
  9. Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
  10. Glacier National Park.