PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, and Americans will kick off the season by traveling in near-record numbers, according to AAA.
AAA estimated that more than 41.5 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day Weekend, which is nearly 5% more than last year.
With almost 2 million additional expected to travel this year, officials expect delays on major roads could be up to three times longer than normal.
INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, believes the busiest delays will be Thursday and Friday afternoon into early evening, as commuters mix with holiday travelers.
“We are projecting the busiest time on the roadways will be Thursday between 4:30-6:30 p.m,” Spokesperson for AAA Mary McGuire said. “So you definitely want to avoid being on the road Thursday in the late afternoon, early evening, and also Friday late afternoon and early evening will be a close second.”
Along with record traffic, officials said to also expect the highest gas prices in four years.
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“The highest gas prices since 2014 won’t keep travelers home this Memorial Day Weekend,” said AAA Spokesperson Bill Sutherland said. “A strong economy and growing consumer confidence are giving Americans all the motivation they need to kick off what we expect to be a busy summer travel season with a Memorial Day Weekend getaway.”
Currently, AAA said the national average price per gallon is $2.92.
“Gas prices are increasing, but we’re probably not going to see the highest prices until later in the summer, around July 4 and maybe even into August,” AAA of Southern New England Spokesperson Drew Carlson said.
AAA also estimates that automobile travel will increase for the fourth straight year, which is nearly 5% over last year’s Memorial Day Weekend.
According to AAA, travelers can expect some relief in their wallets when paying for airfare, car rentals and most mid-range hotels.
AAA’s Leisure Travel Index estimates airfare prices are 7% lower than last Memorial Day Weekend, with an average price of $168 for a round-trip flight along the top 40 domestic routes.
At $59, the average daily cost of a car rental this Memorial Day Weekend is the lowest rate in the past four years and 11% cheaper than last year.