Experts Predict 1 Million More Cars Will Be on the Road for Memorial Day 2022

About 39.2 million people are expected to travel during the long holiday weekend.

Zoran Zeremski/Shutterstock
Zoran Zeremski/Shutterstock
Editor's Note: We know COVID-19 is continuing to impact your travel plans. Should you travel now, be sure to familiarize yourself with the CDC's latest guidance on domestic and international travel as well as local requirements, protocols, and restrictions for both your destination upon your arrival and your home city upon your return. Be safe out there.

If you are planning on taking a road trip for Memorial Day Weekend 2022, you won’t be alone. According to AAA, about 39.2 million people are predicted to travel at least 50 miles away from home during the unofficial start of summer. An estimated 34.9 million of those people will be traveling by car. That’s more than an 8% increase compared to the number of Memorial Day travelers in 2021, which saw 33.4 million people on the road.

“Memorial Day is always a good predictor of what’s to come for summer travel,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel in a press release. “Based on our projections, summer travel isn’t just heating up, it will be on fire. People are overdue for a vacation and they are looking to catch up on some much-needed R&R in the coming months.”

There’s plenty of other data to support the idea that this summer will be a record breaking time for travel. A study from Credit Karma found that 40% of Americans are willing to spend more money this summer to make up for travel time lost to the past two years of the pandemic. So even with gas prices putting some Americans into debt, this increase in car traffic doesn’t come as much surprise. Everyone is pretty eager to get out and explore.

Courtesy of AAA

But, if the idea of busy roadways and terminals doesn’t really match up with the summer adventures you’ve envisioned, don’t worry. There are ways to alleviate travel headaches. Similar to advice experts have for booking flights in advance, the best way to save money is to book your plans as far in advance as you possibly can.

The next step is to be prepared for higher prices, no matter where you're going. Rental car prices have increased by an average of 16% compared to last year, and mid-range hotels have increased an average of 42%. When you are plotting out itineraries and budgets keep these price changes in mind.

To time your car travel, it helps to know when roadways are expected to be busiest. According to AAA, the busiest times will be the afternoons of Thursday, May 26, and Friday, May 27. If you can, consider leaving earlier in the day or earlier in the week to avoid some of the traffic. Below are the best and worst times to travel for all of Memorial Day Weekend.

Courtesy of AAA

And the last tip? Just be patient and flexible. You and nearly 40 million other people are headed out on a weekend adventure—whether it's your first in a long time on the 10th one this year. There might be a few unexpected obstacles that happen even in the best of circumstances. Travel safe, travel smart, and don’t forget to enjoy yourself.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.