SACRAMENTO, Calif — According to AAA, 37.1 million people will drive to their Memorial Day weekend destinations, a 6% increase over 2022.
AAA says Friday will be the busiest day for travel. Experts suggest leaving early, ideally before noon. The worst time to leave Friday is between 3-6 p.m.
Minimal traffic is expected Saturday and Sunday. If you're coming back from your road trip Monday, 12-3 p.m. is the busiest and before 10 a.m. is the best time to leave.
AAA spokesperson John Treanor says you should always prep your car before your road trip.
"Before you go, have your car checked. If you do not feel safe doing it yourself, have your fluid levels checked, have your battery level checked, and make sure your tires are inflated," said Treanor.
He says heat can impact your car and in summer months they see an uptick in calls for emergency roadside assistance and help at auto repair centers.
"It does real damage to your car, batteries especially. Battery life is short in hot climates during the summer. You want to make sure you have important things for your car. A flat tire repair kit, spare tire, jumper cables, things like that which can assist you on the roadway," said Treanor.
You should also keep water, blankets and food in your car in the event of a breakdown or while you're waiting for a tow. Additionally, planning can help. Plan your rest stops ahead, be prepared for delays and leave early.
Treanor says to minimize distractions for the safety of you, your family and others. It could mean removing screens from around the drive, putting in directions before driving, and appointing the passenger as the point person for snack distribution.
In terms of gas prices, there is some relief for drivers this Memorial Day weekend compared to last year's as prices are lower.
"The good news is that gas prices are a far cry from last year. Sacramento last year was paying an average of $6.03 a gallon, and this year $4.65. What a difference a year does make, but you'll still want to shop around," said GasBuddy's Patrick De Haan.
De Haan says you can drive more fuel efficiently by setting the cruise control to a slower speed.
"So if you're not in a rush – slowing down, shopping around and signing up for a free loyalty program can save you anywhere from 25-50 cents a gallon this holiday," he said.
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