May 25, 2023 - News

When to leave Philly for your holiday weekend road trip

Illustration of a car with an American flag pattern.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Plan for traffic on the roadways this Memorial Day weekend — and lots of it.

Why it matters: An estimated 500,000 people will travel from the Philly region during the unofficial start of the summer — up 6% from last year, per AAA.

  • And 9 out of 10 will go by car.

State of play: Pent-up demand and a lack of pandemic restrictions are fueling the rise in trip-taking, says Jana Tidwell, a spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

👉 When to go: Saturday and Sunday will see minimal traffic, per INRIX, which crunches transportation data.

  • The worst times to drive: 3 to 6pm today and Friday, and noon to 3pm on Monday.
  • Best times: Before 1pm today; before noon on Friday; and before 10am on Monday.

Zoom in: The typical pressure points on routes to our well-known vacation spots will likely see traffic volume more than double that of the worst rush hours, Tidwell warns.

  • These include the usual suspects, like the bridges, Garden State Parkway, Atlantic City Expressway, and parts of I-476 and I-95.

Between the lines: After travel plunged during the pandemic, it’s expected to nearly reach or surpass pre-pandemic levels this year, Tidwell says.

  • People are returning to old habits, like taking more spontaneous trips.

What they’re saying: “[Travel] has not just rebounded but it’s really come back with a vengeance in 2023,” according to Tidwell.

What to watch: Memorial Day weekend will likely forecast what travel — and traffic — will look like this summer and during holidays, like July 4th and Thanksgiving, Tidwell says.

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