Barbecues. Parades. Traffic. 
Three pillars of Memorial Day weekend festivities – two of which are a lot more fun than the third. 
And experts think there will be an even larger number of Americans hitting the road this holiday weekend.
“Even with a significant increase in gas prices, we expect a large jump in holiday driving compared to the last few years,” Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst for transportation data company Inrix, said in a release. “Drivers should expect congestion on major roadways around big cities and popular destinations. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”
Pishue told USA TODAY that the majority of travel during Memorial Day weekend is done on the road. He added that more than eight times the number of people who will travel this weekend will travel by automobile as opposed to air and other travel types.
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A survey echoed Pishue’s statement. The company released Memorial Day travel data Monday and said that 82% of Memorial Day weekend travelers will be traveling by car. Location data company Arrivalist said in a release that it estimates 37.9 million Americans will travel by road during this time.
With traffic in mind, it pays to plan ahead.
Travel times are expected to rise all around the country this coming weekend. It’s important to plan for that when you are mapping out your route.
“Nationwide, you can expect about a 50% increase in normal travel time,” Pishue said.
For example, if a trip typically would take you two hours, Pishue said it’s smart to budget three hours.
Here’s a breakdown of the worst travel times across several U.S. metropolitans, according to Inrix, in partnership with AAA: 
Los Angeles
New York
San Francisco
Inrix has projected congestion across the country and has predicted when roads will be the most crowded.
“We think the most congested day is going to be the Thursday before the weekend … across the country,” Pishue said.
Friday is another peak congestion day, Inrix said in a release. The least congested days will be Saturday, Sunday and Monday, according to Pishue.
On Thursday (the busiest day) – and Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday during Memorial Day weekend – the worst time to travel will be between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m., Pishue said.
That time period was a byproduct of the COVID-19 era, Pishue said, noting that Inrix has seen this trend in “pretty much any metro area.”
Morning peak periods, usually spanning 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., have been depressed in terms of travel because fewer people are going into offices. But midday travel is at or above pre-COVID-19 levels in many areas, making midday an inopportune time to leave, Pishue continued.
“What we recommend is leaving generally before 6 or 7 in the morning, and on the weekend part of it – Saturday, Sunday, Monday – leaving before, you know, 10 or 11 (a.m.),” Pishue said.
Here’s Inrix’s breakdown, in partnership with AAA, of the overall best times to travel and worst times to travel by day this Memorial Day weekend:
“There’s not a really bad travel time on (Memorial Day itself),” Pishue said. “(Traffic is) more spread throughout the day.” 
Contributing: Bailey Schulz, USA TODAY


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