SEATTLE — As many as 42.3 million Americans are predicted to travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, which is a 7% increase compared to last year, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
So, whether you're hitting the road, taking public transit, or hopping on a plane, below are some tips on the best time to leave and ways to beat the lines:
Road trips are up 6% over last year. AAA forecasted that 37.1 million Americans will drive to their destinations during this Memorial Day weekend, which is an increase of more than 2 million.
During the weekend holiday, state highways across Washington, especially Interstate 90, will have heavier traffic than usual, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). See the list below for the agency's recommendations on when to hit the road.
I-5 Lacey to Tacoma Northbound
The best time to travel is during 10 and 11 p.m. on Friday, May 26. Around 6 a.m. the traffic will be severely congested which is typical for heavy traffic on the route. It is expected to last until 5 or 6 p.m.
The best time to travel on Monday, May 29 is before 8 a.m. The traffic is predicted to be lighter than usual for a Monday, however the worst time to travel starts at 11 a.m.
I-5 Lacey to Tacoma Southbound
On Friday, May 26, the best time to travel is before 6 a.m. This day will have heavy traffic which is expected to last from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The traffic will be moderate in the evening hours.
On Monday, May 29, the best time to travel is before 8 a.m. The traffic is predicted to lighter than usual for a Monday, however the worst time to travel is between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
I -90 North Bend to Cle Elum Eastbound
On Friday, May 26, the best time to travel is in the early morning before 6 a.m. Congestion is expected to begin at 7 a.m. and will last until 9 p.m.
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On Monday, May 29, there will have moderate congestion between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., however this day is predicted to have good travel conditions.
I -90 Cle Elum to North Bend Westbound
On Friday, May 26, the worst time to travel is noon. The traffic will be light to moderate at 10 a.m. and will be steady until 8 p.m.
On Monday, May 29th, the best time to travel will be before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. since congestion will be heavy from 10 a.m. and will last for most of the day.
US 2 between Stevens Pass and Skykomish Eastbound
On Friday, May 29, traffic will be light and will reach severe congestion by noon. The busiest time on the route is from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
On Monday, May 29, traffic is expected to be light with no severe delays predicted.
US 2 between Stevens Pass and Skykomish Westbound
On Friday, May 29, traffic will be light all day.
On Monday, May 29, traffic is mostly light, however will be moderate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The busiest time is expected to be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
I-5 Bellingham to Canadian border Northbound
On Friday, May 26, the best time to travel will be before 7 a.m. however the traffic will be relatively light to moderate until 11 a.m. and will be congested till late evening.
On Monday, May 29, there will be moderate traffic at 9 a.m. till 8 p.m., however the conditions are expected to be better than average.
I-5 Canadian border to Bellingham Southbound
On Friday, May 26, the best time to travel is after 7 p.m. as it will ease up around 6 p.m. The worst time to travel is 10 a.m., however, the traffic will be severely congested for most of the day.
On Monday, May 29, the best time to travel is 8 a.m. or earlier as the traffic will be congested for over 12 hours, especially between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
It is expected that other transportation-mode travelers are expected to total 1.85 million, which is an increase of 20.6% over 2022, AAA states.
The typical wait times for ferry docks are expected to be longer during the holiday weekend. WSDOT provides the latest alerts for delays and cancellations as well as a space to reserve tickets. However, it is important to make sure to reserve as soon as possible if trying to take the ferry. For instance, as of recent, most spots were gone for the San Juan Islands on Friday and Wednesday.
Also, King County Metro and Sound Transit which includes the light rail and bus will be operating on a Sunday schedule for Memorial Day.
To beat the huge crowds, NerdWallet suggests not to fly out on the Friday before Memorial Day. For example, in 2019, the Friday before Memorial Day was the third-busiest day at U.S. airports for the entire year. Instead, they suggest the Tuesday, Saturday, or Sunday before, and when flying back, they suggest the Wednesday, Saturday, and Tuesday after.
Officials with the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport suggest that if your flight is during these busy times, before 9 a.m. and from 2 p.m. - 5 p.m., to prepare for very busy conditions at TSA security and on the drives.
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Here are important preparation tips they suggest to do: