What you need to know ahead of one of the busiest travel weekends of the year

Memorial Day Travel Tips: Gas and Travel Times

(WECT) - Memorial Day weekend is upon us and there are somethings you need to know before packing up the car and hitting the road.

Nearly 43 million Americans plan to travel this weekend, according to AAA’s Memorial Day Forecast. Since AAA began tracking holiday travel 19 years ago, experts expect this season to be the second-highest in travel volume on record for Memorial Day weekends.

Cars: Over 37 million people will be traveling via cars. That’s 3.5% more than last year.

Planes: 3.25 million people will head to the airport, nearly 5% up from last year.

Trains, Buses, and Cruise Ships: Nearly 2 million will use these forms of transportation -- almost a 4% increase from last year.

So here is what you need to know as you prepare for your weekend getaway:

Worst times to hit the road

According to AAA, the greatest amount of congestion will be Thursday and Friday in the late afternoon as commuters leave work and travelers begin their trips. Major cities could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip.

The best time to hit the road? Thursday morning, Friday morning, or Saturday night.

AAA expects to be called out for roadside assistance for more than 350,000 motorists. Flat tires, dead batteries, and lockouts will be the leading reasons. Drivers are asked to take their car to get maintenance before taking a long trip. Also keep jumper cables, a first aid kit, and a flashlight in the car in case of emergencies.

Gas prices are down, but we could see an increase before Memorial Day

10 largest weekly changes in gas prices. (source: AAA)
10 largest weekly changes in gas prices. (source: AAA)

The nation’s average gas price is $3 per gallon, which is about the same as this time last year. In the last month, gas prices have decreased in states in the south and southeast. According to AAA, people can expect prices to stay about the same with a possible increase right before Memorial Day. Right now, the average price per gallon in North Carolina is down 4-cents, averaging at $2.62. In the last month, gas prices have decreased in states in the south and southeast.

To save the most money at the pump, try to fill up earlier in the week during the morning.

To find the best gas prices in your area, be sure to check out our pump patrol page.

Memorial Day Weekend Travel: NCDOT's message to drivers

NCDOT is putting a pause on road work that requires lane closures

To help keep everyone safe on the roads, the North Carolina Department of Transportation will put a hold on most road construction activities that require lane closures on interstate, U.S. and N.C. routes. This will go into place early Friday morning through Tuesday evening.

Lane closures will stay in place in some locations for safety reasons where conditions don’t allow lanes or roads to re-open, like bridge replacements or where there are no shoulders.

Drivers can check their routes and plan ahead by using NCDOT’s map.

Friendly reminders for driving safe during the busy holiday weekend

  • Make sure you buckle up
  • Stay alert while driving through work zones
  • Always follow the speed limit
  • Avoid using phones or technology
  • Give yourself space in case traffic suddenly stops or slows down
  • Look into following alternate routes to avoid congestion
  • Obey the “Move Over Law”

Dos and don’ts before heading to the airport

Like any time you travel via plane, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get through security. Memorial Day weekend may cause longer lines, especially at major airports.

Airport security tends to be the busiest from 6 a.m. until 9 a.m. and then again from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m.

The top three Memorial Day travel destinations: Orlando, New York, and Las Vegas.

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