Buckle up and try to beat the rush.

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As the long weekend approaches, we’re counting down to the countless barbecues, picnics, fireworks, and opportunities for family fun this Memorial Day. For many, that means it’s time to hit the roads or catch a flight. A holiday weekend means there’s much to consider to avoid any hiccups for the smoothest Memorial Day travel.

About 43.8 million people will be traveling at least 50 miles around Memorial Day, according to AAA. That’s a 4% increase from last year—and the highest number since 2005.

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“We haven’t seen Memorial Day weekend travel numbers like these in almost 20 years,” says Paula Twidale, AAA Travel’s senior vice president. “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.”

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And for United Airlines, Memorial Day weekend is the busiest ever, with more than 3 million passengers flying May 23 to 28: “This will be the biggest Memorial Day and summer travel season in United’s 98-year history,” said Andrew Nocella, United’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer.

With that in mind, keep these tips in mind when planning your Memorial Day travel.


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Ace the Airport

An estimated 3.51 million people will take to the skies this Memorial Day travel period, AAA says. Additionally, the TSA predicts Friday, May 24, will be the busiest travel day, expecting to screen more than 18 million passengers and crew from May 23 to 29, up 6.4% from last year.

The TSA shared some tips, reminding passengers to bring their IDs, consider TSA PreCheck, and allow ample time at the airport.

“In close coordination with airport, airline, and travel partners, we are more than ready to handle this summer’s increased travel volumes,” says David Pekoske, TSA administrator.

United Airlines recommends travelers download the app to benefit from features like mobile check-in, bag drop shortcuts, and terminal navigating, as well as seizing the opportunity to pool miles among groups with MileagePlus.

To streamline your day, aim to book the first flight of the day and non-stop flights. And of course—take advantage of airport lounges and frequent flyer programs to maximize your experience.

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Revamp Your Road Trip

For those headed for the highways, know that many others are doing the same. About 38.4 million are expected to be on the road—a record since AAA started tracking in 2000.

Opting for a road trip can lend convenience and flexibility to your travel, and there’s nothing like a long drive sometimes. Just know that traffic jams are common. To avoid this, INRIX says you should leave before 11 a.m. on Thursday or Friday. Throughout the whole travel period, target for earlier in the day or in the evening, avoiding the midday rush.

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

For those renting a car, keep in mind that Hertz says the busiest pick-up days are Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24—especially in cities like Denver and Las Vegas. Drive safe!

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Check Your Coverage

No matter how much you prepare ahead, plans sometimes go awry. About 20% of flights are delayed each year, so travel insurance can protect you from unforeseen obstacles—just in case!

Travel insurance comparison site Squaremouth recommends purchasing a policy with flexible delay coverage. Other things to watch out for include knowing what’s covered versus what is not. Take a closer look at your policy so you know what to expect.

Often, travel insurance policies feature travel delay coverage, helping with unexpected expenses like meals and hotels. Travel delay benefits may cover airline issues, like weather or mechanical breakdowns, as well as supplier issues, like delays due to disturbances or overbooking. But beware: Travel insurance won’t cover if you miss your flight due to traffic or long security lines.

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Map out Future Trips Now

Your Memorial Day travel itineraries are likely already set. But there’s no time like the present to prep for the rest of the summer.

According to Expedia, in summer, Fridays are the busiest, whereas Tuesday is the ideal travel day, so plan accordingly to save a bit of stress and cash. Expedia also found that travelers who booked summer flights between 21 to 60 days in advance saved about 15%. So while the peak window for Memorial Day travel deals has passed, plenty of savings and summertime fun remain.