AAA: More than 1M Virginians plan Memorial Day weekend travel

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 2:29 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ/AAA Release) - AAA predicts nearly 1.2 million Virginians will be traveling a distance of 50 miles or more over Memorial Day weekend 2023. That’s six percent higher than 2022, says AAA, and it would make it the fourth busiest Memorial Day weekend in Virginia since AAA started tracking the holiday forecast in 2000. Only 2019, 2018 and 2005 have had larger crowds than are expected for this weekend.

89 percent of holiday travelers, or about 1.03 million, will be hitting the roads for the unofficial start to the summer, according to AAA. Auto travel is predicted to be up nearly 6% over 2022, but fall about 3.2% shy of the pre-pandemic numbers of 2019.

Air travel is predicted to set a new Memorial Day Holiday record for Virginia. Nearly 100,000 Virginians are expected to fly to their destinations this year. That’s 10% higher than last year, and 2.5% higher than the number of air travelers in 2019.

“The TSA has warned travelers that it expects summer travel numbers at checkpoints to be ‘Comfortably Above’ pre-pandemic levels,” says AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Morgan Dean. “If the Memorial Day forecast numbers are an indicator for what we can expect for the summer, it could be a very busy season at the airports.”

The Other Travel Category is also predicted to surpass pre-pandemic numbers with more than 34,000 set to travel by bus, rail or cruise. That’s up 18% from last year and 13% higher than 2019.

AAA National Travel Projections

Nationally, 42.3 million Americans are expected to travel for the holiday. That’s 7% higher than 2022, but just a percent point away from the holiday travel numbers from 2019. Live in Virginia, national air travel is expected to surpass 2019 numbers with 3.4 million set to take to the skies. That’s up 11% from last year and up 5.4% from 2019.

Nearly 88% of all travel across the nation will be by car for the holiday. Drivers are finding some relief at the pumps this year. The Virginia gas average (5/21) of $3.30 down 20 cents in the past month and is $1.16 less than on this day one year ago. It’s also $1.56 less than the all-time record high Virginia gas price average of $4.86 set on June 14th of last year.

Best Days and Times To Travel

INRIX expects Friday, May 26 to be the busiest day on the roads over the long Memorial Day weekend. The best times to travel by car for those who are looking to avoid traffic is in the morning or evening after 6 p.m.

Roadside Rescue

AAA Mid-Atlantic expects to rescue more than 6,500 drivers in Virginia who may become stranded on the roadside during the long Memorial Day holiday weekend. During the holiday last year, (May 26-31st) nearly half of all calls (2,900) were for tows. Another quarter of the calls were for battery problems.

“Now is the time to get your vehicle checked out, before you set off for a Memorial Day getaway or for the Great American Road Trip,” says Dean. “No one wants to be left stranded on the side of the road. Catching up on routine maintenance, getting your oil and fluids checked and checking your battery and tires can go a long way in making sure your car is road ready.”

Being Prepared

Before you hit the road, AAA reminds drivers to make sure they have fully stocked summer emergency kits on hand.

AAA Summer Emergency Kit suggestions:

  • Fully charged cell phone and car charger
  • First-aid kit
  • Basic tool kit
  • Blanket
  • Rain jacket or poncho
  • Flashlight with extra fresh batteries
  • Rags, paper towels or pre-moistened wipes
  • Emergency warning devices such as road flares or reflectors
  • Jumper cables
  • Drinking water/snacks for everyone in the car including pets

Memorial Day Holiday Travel Period

For purposes of this forecast, the Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Thursday, May 25 to Monday, May 29. The five-day holiday length is consistent with previous holiday periods.