If you’re among the masses headed out of town on Friday for the long holiday weekend, make sure to plan ahead and leave extra time for your trip.
According to AAA, more than 41.5 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend, nearly 5 percent more than last year and the largest number in more than a dozen years. With nearly 2 million additional people taking planes, trains, automobiles and other modes of transportation, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects that travel delays on major roads could be up to three times longer than normal, with the busiest days being Thursday and Friday, May 24 and 25, as commuters mix with holiday travelers.
The 88 percent of travelers choosing to drive will pay the most expensive Memorial Day weekend gas prices since 2014. Gas prices averaged $2.72 in April, an increase of 33 cents from last year, due to expensive crude oil, record gasoline demand and shrinking global supply. The higher prices are not keeping holiday travelers home, with automobile travel expected to increase for the fourth straight year. Travelers can expect some relief when paying for airfare, car rentals and most mid-range hotels. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares are 7 percent lower than last Memorial Day. At $59, the average daily cost of a car rental this Memorial Day is the lowest rate in the past four years and 11 percent cheaper than last year.
If you are taking public transit, Josh Crandall of Clever Commute has some getaway advice for you. Following are his top five tips for a stress-free commute on getaway day:
1. Tickets – Get them early! If you or your traveling companion will need a ticket, get it before Friday afternoon. Lines are long on getaway days. LIRR, Metro North, NJ Transit and NY Waterway all have ticket apps.
2. Timing is crucial – Add some padding to your travel time to be safe. Expect crowds and long lines after 1 p.m. Last year, commuters reported long lines at Port Authority at 12:30 p.m. on the Friday before Memorial Day.
3. Timetables and Schedule changes – LIRR, Metro North and NJ Transit will provide extra getaway day service. All three have date-specific trip planners on their sites.
4. Choose your terminal wisely – Avoid NY Penn Station if you can. NJT riders should consider taking the PATH. LIRR riders should consider Atlantic Terminal or Hunterspoint Avenue
5. Dress in layers – The terminal or the trains can be warm. Bring water and snacks.There is going to be lots of luggage on trains on Friday. Pick and pack your bag early and lightly.
Make your plan now. Do not wait until Friday morning to start thinking about your getaway strategy.
Planet Princeton wish you a safe and happy holiday!