As Americans gear up for the unofficial start of summer, AAA projects a surge in travel over Memorial Day weekend, with over 4.3 million people expected to travel 50 miles or more from home. This would mark a 4% increase from last year and nearly matches the record set in 2005.

“We haven’t seen Memorial Day weekend travel numbers like these in almost 20 years,” said Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel, in a news release. “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.”

The majority of travelers will be hitting the roads, with an estimated 38.4 million people traveling by car, the highest number since AAA began tracking in 2000. Despite similar gas prices to last yer, with the national average around $3.57 per gallon, road trips continue to be the preferred mode of transportation due to their convenience and flexibility.

Air travel is also seeing a significant uptick, with 3.51 million expected to fly, which is a 4.8% increase in over last year and the highest since 2005. Travelers are advised to plan ahead and expect crowded airports and potential delays.

For those driving, INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, suggests avoiding peak travel times.

“Travel times are expected to be up to 90% longer than normal. Travelers should stay up to date on traffic apps, 511 services, and local news stations to avoid sitting in traffic longer than necessary,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, in a AAA news release.

Congested periods are expected during the Memorial Day weekend, particularly on Thursday, May 23, and Friday, May 25, in the evenings and late afternoon on Monday, May 27.

As for destinations, top spots include Orlando, New York, Las Vegas, and Southern California, with theme parks and entertainment venues drawing the biggest crowds. Internationally, European cities like Rome and Paris top the list for those venturing abroad.

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