May 25, 2023 - News

How to beat D.C. traffic for Memorial Day weekend

An airplane takes off from Reagan National Airport

Get to the airports early. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

More than one million residents in the Washington region are expected to travel this Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA’s annual forecast.

Why it matters: There are some do's and don’ts when planning.

Be smart: The worst time to drive is between 3pm and 6pm Thursday and Friday, AAA says.

  • The best: Before 1pm on Thursday and noon on Friday.

Zoom in: For beachgoers, the best times to avoid delays crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the mornings are before 10am on Thursday and 8am on Friday.

  • Beachgoers returning on Monday should cross early before 8am or late after 10pm. Or before 6am on Tuesday.

At our airports, passenger travel is slated to go up 8% from last year.

  • Expect Thursday to be the busiest day, and Monday the lightest.

The big picture: There are 42.3 million Americans expected to travel 50 miles or more, making it nationally the third busiest Memorial Day weekend since AAA started tracking it in 2000.

  • That’s 2.7 million more than last year — at a time when gas prices are down, but airfare is pricey.
  • “Even with high ticket prices, demand for flights is skyrocketing,” said Ragina Cooper Ali of AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Yes, but: D.C.-area travel will remain at 6% below the pre-pandemic year of 2019, according to the forecast.

Stay safe! Inspect your car before leaving, do not drive distracted, and buckle up.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect that AAA expects this year’s to be the third busiest (not the busiest) Memorial Day weekend since 2000, and that the AAA spokesperson’s name is Ragina Cooper Ali.


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