Memorial Day weekend travel outlook and travel tips

If you think Memorial Day weekend might be a busy one for travel, you’d be right. Before you pack a suitcase and hop in the car or take to the sky, here’s what to expect by the numbers.

Busy weekend in the sky

Demand for flights on Memorial Day weekend is up nearly 10% compared to last year, according to recently released Expedia flight data. Top domestic destinations are New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. International flight sticker shock is real, especially when searching for cities like Rome and London.

According to AAA, air travel will exceed pre-pandemic levels for the same time frame. Nearly 3.4 million travelers are expected to fly to their destination this Memorial Day weekend, an increase of 11% over last year.

Meanwhile, airports are still understaffed, so the increase in passengers could mean longer lines at security checkpoints and even some challenges when it comes to getting the food you want in the terminals or even spots in the lounges.

On the plus side, the Transportation Security Administration has just rolled out new facial recognition software at select airports in the U.S., though it’s yet to be seen if it will speed up the wait times.


“This is expected to be the third busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000, when AAA started tracking holiday travel,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said. “More Americans are planning trips and booking them earlier, despite inflation. This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports.”

Related: How to find cheap flights

More travelers are hitting the road

If you plan to drive this holiday weekend, prepare to share the road with 37.1 million other Americans with the same idea. AAA reports road trips are up 6% over last year — an increase of more than 2 million.

Likely not surprisingly, Friday, May 26, is expected to be the busiest day on the roads during the long weekend, according to the transportation analysts at Inrix.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

If you do need to hit the road that day, the recommendation is to do so early in the morning or after 6 p.m. to avoid the most congested times. Major metro areas like Boston, New York, Seattle and Tampa are projected to have some of the nation’s worst traffic, with travel times doubling compared to normal.


If you want to avoid that rush, Saturday and Sunday of the long weekend are also expected to have the lightest amount of road traffic.

Although it will be busy, there’s good news for those opting for a road trip — average gas prices are down more than a dollar per gallon compared to last year. According to AAA, the current regular gas price average is $3.53 per gallon, while a year ago, it was $4.56.

We are also seeing luxury hotel pricing in the U.S. is easing somewhat, though that may not play out specifically for this particular in-demand weekend.

Related: Top tips for how to save on gas

Travel tips from TPG

You can’t control that tens of millions will travel out of town this weekend, but there’s a lot within your control to make your trip a success. Here are some curated travel tips from the TPG team of travel experts.

Read on for more travel tips: