Near-Record Number of Travelers Expected for Memorial Day Weekend

HYANNIS – This weekend kicks off the unofficial start to summer and Americans will be traveling in near-record numbers.

According to AAA Northeast, more than 41.5 million Americans will be traveling during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the most since 2005.

About 1 million people in the Bay State will be leaving home, an increase of 5.2 percent from last year. AAA Northeast Director of Public and Legislative Affairs Mary Maguire expects many visitors to head to Cape Cod.

“Well we are expecting very strong travel especially because the Memorial Day forecast looks pretty good right now which always spurs more people to take day trips over the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges,” Maguire said.

“I know I’m going to be headed to the beach on the Cape this weekend,” she said.

About 900,000 Massachusetts residents will be traveling by car.

Maguire said AAA is forecasting the busiest travel time around Boston and onto Cape Cod will be Thursday between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.

“I think that probably jives with the Cape traffic we have been seeing in recent years,” she said.

“A lot of people getting the jump on the long weekend and on every weekend on many cases leaving Thursday night.”

Maguire said travelers may want to avoid traveling Thursday evening.

“You may want to wait until later Thursday or very early Friday or Saturday morning to travel over the bridges to the Cape,” Maguire said.

Maguire expects Friday afternoon to be a runner up for the heaviest traffic for the beginning part of the weekend.

“Use those real-time travel tools and apps,” she said. “Go on the MassDot website. They always have a lot of great tips for travel. And just try to gauge the traffic situation before you head out.”

According to AAA, car rental prices in the Boston area are down 27.9 percent from last year, with an average daily rate around $80, down from $111 last year.

Flying is also a lot cheaper this year, with roundtrip airfares from Boston to New York down 6.3 percent from last year, and roundtrip Boston to Washington D.C. down 11.2 percent.

Nationwide, Orlando, Florida remains the most-visited Memorial Day destination based on AAA travel bookings. Hawaii, Las Vegas, Phoenix and southern California are also popular spots. Europe is also a major draw this year.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation advises Memorial Day holiday travelers to plan ahead, utilize MassDOT’s many travel “real time” tools to plan trips and use public transportation if possible to travel between destinations. 

On Memorial Day, May 28, Registry of Motor Vehicle customer service locations will be closed, as are all Commonwealth of Massachusetts offices, the HOV lane on I-93 will not be deployed, and all MBTA subway, trolleys, commuter rail and buses will operate on Sundayschedules.

“We traditionally see a high number of drivers on roads Memorial Day weekend,” said MassDOT Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. 

“Many drivers begin to travel the Thursday before Memorial Day and the actual holiday is when many drivers choose to return home.  Anyone planning to drive should try to travel in off-peak hours, should build extra time into their trips and may want to check the MassDOT Go Time app or other apps to help with decisions on which roads to take.”

MassDOT will be shutting down scheduled roadway construction activities effective at noon, Friday, May 25; scheduled road work will resume after 11 p.m., on Monday, May 28.

For traffic and road conditions, drivers may use the following options to make decisions:

  • Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.
  • Dial 511 and select a route to hear real-time conditions on I-90 and other roads.
  • Visit, a website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information, and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.
  • Download Waze, the real-time traffic navigation app that provides motorists with real-time traffic conditions across Massachusetts.
  • Follow MassDOT on Twitter @MassDOT because motor vehicle incidents which impact traffic flow are generally mentioned in tweets if they occur on the state’s major highways. 
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