June 21, 2024

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Memorial Day weekend travel in Texas: best and worst days to hit the road

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NORTH TEXAS — Millions of people are packing their bags and getting ready to hit the road this Memorial Day weekend. Here are a few tips to help avoid the rush and kick off the holiday weekend.

This Memorial Day weekend is anticipated to be one of the busiest since 2000, when AAA began tracking holiday travel, according to the association.

AAA expects Texas to see 3.6 million travelers this Memorial Day weekend, up 4.2% over the previous year. 

“Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer and many friends and families are planning to spend the holiday weekend at cookouts, popular landmarks and even taking international vacations,” said Galen Grillo, Vice President and General Manager of AAA Texas. “Bucket list trips and solo travel are top travel trends our travel advisors are seeing this year and 2024 is shaping up to be the busiest year for travel ever.”

Nationwide, nearly 44 million people are anticipated to travel for the holiday weekend, up 4.1% from 2023.

Top spots this year include Orlando, New York, Las Vegas,  Southern California and cruises to Alaska.

Almost 90% of travelers will take to the road and about 8% plan to hit the skies. About 2% plan to travel by train, bus or boat.

The busiest day to be on the road for Memorial Day weekend

According to transportation data from INRIX, Friday, May 26 might be the worst day to get on the road. 

INRIX expects Friday to be the busiest day on the roads during the holiday weekend and recommends leaving before 1 p.m. Thursday.

Other more convenient times to travel by car are in the morning or evening after 6 p.m. The lightest traffic days will be Saturday and Sunday, INRIX says.

Can’t start the road trip before Friday? INRIX recommends leaving before noon.

The Texas Department of Public Safety says it is increasing traffic enforcement for Memorial Day weekend.

“Memorial Day weekend is commonly recognized as the unofficial kickoff to summer, and it is important for drivers to remember that our roads will be busier than usual,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “To keep yourself and your loved ones safe, DPS asks that motorists take a little extra time when driving, obey traffic laws and be mindful of others when sharing the road. When we remember to buckle up, be courteous of others and follow the traffic laws in place to keep drivers safe, Memorial Day—and every day—is safer for everyone in Texas.”  

Gas prices for Memorial Day weekend

This Memorial Day weekend, AAA says drivers can expect gas prices to be roughly the same as last year when the national average was roughly $3.57.  

Prices have held somewhat steady in recent weeks. 

The average price of gas across Texas is $3.09, up about 5 cents from last year, according to GasBuddy. Texas currently has the fifth cheapest gas in the country. Nationwide, the average price of regular unleaded gas is about $3.60.

Before hitting the road, AAA recommends 

  • Checking tires
  • Checking the vehicle’s battery
  • Listening to and feeling the brakes 
  • Replacing wiper blades and refilling windshield cleaner 
  • Checking/topping off engine oil and other fluids

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