May 23, 2024 - News

What to expect during Virginia's record Memorial Day travel

Illustration of a suitcase covered in stickers from different states

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

AAA is expecting 1.2 million Virginians to travel 50 or more miles from home this weekend.

Why it matters: Get ready for Memorial Day travel madness.

The big picture: That number is about 44 million people nationwide, a record unseen in nearly 20 years.

  • Airports will face the most crowded Memorial Day weekend since 2005 when the travel industry rebounded after 9/11, per AAA predictions.
  • A record number of people are expected to take road trips, with 38.4 million Americans traveling via car.

Between the lines: This travel forecast "signals a very busy summer travel season ahead," said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, in a statement.

By the numbers: Here's the breakdown of how Virginians might be traveling.

🚗 By car: 1.06 million, similar to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

 ✈️ Airplane: Over 102,000, about 7% higher than 2019.

🚢 Bus, rail or cruise ship: Nearly 35,000, up 15% from 2019.

Zoom in: Richmond airport is expecting an 11% increase from last year, which comes out to about 1,000 more travelers per day, according to a release.

What to know about Virginia's gas prices right now:

  • At an average of $3.47 for regular, they're 16 cents higher than last year's Memorial Day weekend, per AAA.
  • It's slightly higher in the Richmond area at $3.50, which is 22 cents greater than last year's average.

Best time to travel, according to INRIX:

  • Friday: before 11am or after 8pm.
  • Saturday after 6pm.
  • Sunday: before 1pm.
  • Monday: after 7pm.

What else to look out for: Police, who are increasing their presence on the road to watch for unbuckled, distracted or drunk drivers.

The bottom line: I know this sounds like local TV speak, but it's true: Remember to pack your patience this weekend.

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