According to a recent AAA report, this Memorial Day weekend promises to be the busiest it’s been in two decades, with an estimated 43.8 million travelers taking to the roads and skies for “the unofficial start of summer.”

Roughly 38 million people will travel by car, according to AAA, with an additional 3.51 million passengers boarding flights. Another nearly 2 million travelers will take their journeys by bus, cruise or train.

Because high travel equals high traffic, here are some things to know as you prepare for the holiday.

When is Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is May 27, with the busiest travel days being May 25, 26 and 27. The holiday commemorates those who died while serving in the United States’ armed forces. Since its founding in 1971, the national holiday has been celebrated yearly on the last Monday of May.

This year, the top travel destinations for Memorial Day will be Las Vegas, Florida, Denver and Los Angeles, according to CBS News.

USA Today has provided a list of best travel times and worst travel times to be aware of as you travel:

  • Drivers leaving on Thursday, May 23, or Friday, May 24, are advised to hit the road before 11 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
  • Drivers leaving on Saturday, May 25, should travel before and after 6 p.m. to avoid traffic jams.
  • Travelers on Sunday, May 26, should leave before 1 p.m.
  • For those returning home on Monday, May 27, hit the road after 7 p.m. to avoid congestion.

Is Memorial Day a busy travel day?

It’s not uncommon to have heavy traffic on Memorial Day, due to all of the travelers. These are the worst days and times to be traveling through big cities, per USA Today:


    • Worst route: Milwaukee to Chicago via I-94 E.
    • Worst day: Sunday, May 26.
    • Worst time: 4:30 p.m.


    • Worst route: Fort Collins to Denver via I-25.
    • Worst day: Sunday, May 26.
    • Worst time: 4:15 p.m.

Los Angeles

    • Worst route: LA to Bakersfield via I-5 N.
    • Worst day: Thursday, May 23.
    • Worst time: 6:15 p.m.

San Francisco

    • Worst route: San Francisco to Napa via I-80 E.
    • Worst day: Friday, May 24.
    • Worst time: 11 a.m.

Washington D.C.

    • Worst route: Washington, D.C., to Baltimore via Balt/Wash Pkwy N.
    • Worst day: Friday, May 24.
    • Worst time: 2:15 p.m.

How many people will travel Memorial Day weekend?

Nearly “44 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home over the Memorial Day holiday travel period,” per AAA. But why is Memorial Day particularly appealing?

According to Travel + Leisure, the “three-day weekend marks the glorious beginning of summer, when beaches and pools reopen to the public and amusement park rides creak back into service.”

The warm weather and the long weekend — plus an irresistible itch to get outdoors — mean a lot of travel.

One traveler, Joy Noelle Balanag, told CBS News that she booked her vacation months in advance to beat the crowds.

“I definitely am excited for this travel season,” she said. “2024 feels just like almost a breath of fresh air. I do plan on traveling on airplanes. I do plan on taking my car. Just, like, seeing where this summer season takes me.”

Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said, “We’re projecting an additional one million travelers this holiday weekend compared to 2019, which not only means we’re exceeding pre-pandemic levels but also signals a very busy summer travel season ahead.”