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Memorial Day weekend traffic to be heavy for Florida. Here's how ...

If you’re planning to take a trip for Memorial Day weekend, you may want to brace yourself for busy airports and roads.

Are you planning to hit the road this Memorial Day weekend? You won't be alone.

According to AAA's 2023 Memorial Day Travel Forecast, there will be nearly 2.4 million Floridians traveling at least 50 miles or more from home this weekend and 2.1 million of them will be sharing the highway with you. That's 137,000 more drivers than last year. If you decide to fly you'll be one of 208,000 other Floridians at the airports, according to AAA, which is 25,000 more than in 2022. Expect busy roads and congested airports.

The pandemic didn't slow down our travel plans for long.

“This is expected to be the third busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000, when AAA started tracking holiday travel,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in a news release. “More Americans are planning trips and booking them earlier, despite inflation. This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports.”

AAA’s forecast defines the Memorial Day travel period as May 25-29.

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Will there be a lot of people traveling for Memorial Day in 2023?

Looks like we'll definitely be setting a record in Florida. The forecast is for 172,000 more Floridian travelers than last year, and 96,000 more than in 2019, before the pandemic locked us all down.

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How does Florida travel compare to the rest of the U.S.?

AAA projects 42.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, which is 2.7 million more than last year but 500,000 travelers fewer than what was reported in 2019 and well below the 44 million reported in 2005.

Air travel is taking off, however, with nearly 3.4 million travelers expected to take to the skies, 33,700 more than last year and 170,000 more than in 2019.

“This Memorial Day weekend could be the busiest at airports since 2005,” AAA said in the release.

A predicted total of 1.85 million travelers will take other types of transportation, such as trains and buses, up nearly 21% from last year.

Meanwhile, international travel is up a whopping 250% higher this weekend compared to 2022, with European cities such as Rome, Paris, Dublin, London, Barcelona, and Athens being the most popular, in case you were looking for ideas.

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Are airfares going up?

Oh, yes. AAA booking data shows a 40% increase in airfares to top destinations such as Orlando, New York City, and Las Vegas over last year.

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Will gas prices go up in Florida for Memorial Day weekend?

Gas prices have been declining here the past week, with the average price dropping 7 cents to $3.41, and may drop even more as we get closer to the weekend.

"It's looking like Florida drivers will spend a dollar per gallon less for gasoline than they did last Memorial Day weekend," said AAA Auto Club spokesman Mark Jenkins.

Traveling for Memorial Day?Florida gas prices decline ahead of holiday weekend

What are the best times to drive for the Memorial Day weekend?

INRIX, a company that collects transportation data and works with AAA for holiday travel projections, predicts that the roads will be their busiest on Friday, May 26.

The best times to travel by car on Thursday, May 25, and Friday are before 1 p.m. and noon, respectively, while the worst times are between 3 and 6 p.m, according to INRIX. Traffic is likely to be lightest on Saturday, May 27, and Sunday, May 28, with minimal impacts.

The best time to travel by car on Monday, May 29, is before 10 a.m., while the worst time is between noon and 3 p.m.

Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, said drivers can expect significant delays, particularly in and around major metropolitan areas, as travelers and commuters mix.

“Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic,” he said in the release. “Our advice is to avoid driving during peak hours or use alternative routes.”

Contributor: Nathan Diller, USA TODAY

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