John Townsend
Public Relations Manager, DC
O: (202) 481-6820 (ext. 4462108)
C: (202) 253-2171


WASHINGTON, D. C. (Wednesday, May 22, 2019) –– Whether it is a journey or jaunt to a holiday weekend getaway or a matter of embarking on a sojourn to a longer summertime stay, a record-setting 1,077,600 holiday travelers hailing from the Washington metro area are taking to the roads, rails and skies during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, AAA Mid-Atlantic is projecting. Those souls ever fond of venturing 50 miles or more from home during the fast approaching and perennially busy holiday travel period comprise nearly one-fifth, 17%, of the Washington metro area’s population of 6,249,950. That means the travel volume across the region is up 3.1% from last Memorial Day. The number of local travelers has increased each year since 2015. More people. More delays. And that’s only the half of it.


With more people traveling, delays will multiply on major roads in the Washington metro area, INRIX predicts. On some area freeways travelers will face delays three times the normal trip, and that’s saying a lot. Indubitably, we will not have the roads or the skies to ourselves. Washington area residents will join the nearly 43 million people nationwide who start their summers with a Memorial Day weekend getaway. AAA has been tracking Memorial Day leisure travel trends and volumes since 2000.


“Expect sizeable increases in congestion on area freeways during the Memorial Day getaway, starting as early as this afternoon on the Capital Beltway Clockwise, as delays increase 85%,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “But the ‘Mother of Dragons,’ or as it were, of all delays will occur on Memorial Day on a 32 mile stretch of westbound US 50, as travel delays increase over 300% and travel times stretch from 1 hour and 45 minutes to two hours and twenty minutes. If you know what’s good for you, avoid traveling around those hours and times when roads have historically been busiest.”


AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Memorial Day 2019

Travel Projections for the Washington SMSA At-A-Glance

Total Travel & Percentage

Automobile Travel & Percentage

Air Travel & Percentage

Other Modes of

Travel & Percentage


Up 3.1%% from 1,045,500 travelers in 2018


(89% of all area travelers).

Up 3% from 932,900 in 2018.


(8% of all area travelers). Up 5.1% from 83,900 in 2018.


(3% of all area travelers). Down -0.3% from 28,800 in 2018.


In total, 3.2 million persons residing in the Washington metro area, Maryland and Virginia will venture more than 50 miles from home during the Memorial Day travel period. A sum of 2.8 million residents will travel by automobile to their holiday destinations.

The plurality of vacationers, or is it vacationists?, nearly nine out of ten persons hailing from the Washington metro area, 960,800 people are forecast to hit the road this Memorial Day. That’s 3% more than last year. Another 88,100 Washington area residents will travel by air, a 5.1% increase from 2018. Travel by trains, buses, rails and cruise ships will decrease nominally by 0.3% to 28,700 passengers.

By the numbers: 2019 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast

  • Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 37.6 million – will hit the road, the most on record for the holiday and 3.5% more than last year.

  • Planes: 3.25 million people will take to the skies, 4.8% more than last year, second only to 2005.

  • Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 3.8% to 1.9 million passengers.

Drivers beware: Worst times to hit the road

For the 960,800 Washington area travelers heading out of town and its environs by automobile, the “queuing theory will be put to use” on area freeways as early as this afternoon, Wednesday, May 22, especially along a 11 mile stretch of the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway. The peak time for delays occurs at 4 p.m. Travel time will increase from an average of 38 minutes to an hour and five minutes, a 72% increase, as average speeds drop to 9.8 miles per hour, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts.


Getaway traffic and travel delays will continue to mount on area freeways on Thursday, May 23, particularly along US 50 E, the northbound direction of Interstate 270, I-270 southbound, the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway, and Interstate 95 Southbound. The Washington metro area will experience the greatest amount of traffic congestion on Memorial Day itself, as hundreds of thousands of Washington metro area residents return home from their holiday weekend getaways and get-togethers.


“Drivers in the most congested metros should expect much worse conditions than normal,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst, INRIX. “Travelers should anticipate delays to start on Wednesday and continue through Memorial Day. Our advice to drivers is to avoid the morning and evening commuting times or plan alternate routes.”




Road Name

Distance (miles)

Peak Date

Peak Time

Normal Travel Time

Predicted Travel Time


% Delay

Speed (MpH)

US50 W



4:15 PM

34 mins

2 hours & 20 mins

1 hour & 45 mins



I95 N



4:30 PM

38 mins

1 hours & 5 mins

27 mins



Capital Beltway Clockwise



4:00 PM

35 mins

1 hour & 4 mins

30 mins



US50 E



9:00 PM

39 mins

1 hour & 4 mins

25 mins



I270 N



6:00 PM

54 mins

1 hour & 23 mins

29 mins



I270 S



7:15 AM

55 mins

1 hour & 22 mins

27 mins



Capital Beltway Anticlockwise



6:00 PM

35 mins

48 mins

13 mins



I95 S



5:00 PM

1 hrs & 39 mins

2 hours & 3 mins

23 mins





Gas prices won’t keep holiday travelers home
The average price of gas, as of Tuesday, is $2.84 nationally and is nine cents less than this time last year ($2.93 on May 21, 2018). In Washington D.C., Tuesday’s average price was $2.93, which was 14 cents less per gallon than last year. In the Washington metro area, Tuesday’s average price was $2.76, which was also 14 cents less per gallon than 2018. “When gas prices are higher, travelers may shorten the distance of a road trip, eat out less or look for free activities,” said Townsend. “Although, overall, gas prices are getting cheaper for the majority of motorists and are about 17 cents less than last Memorial Day.”


Travelers to see increases in hotel and car rental costs

While road trippers are paying to fill up their vehicles at the gas pump, some of that additional expense can be made up with lower prices on car rentals and hotels this Memorial Day. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, car rental prices have declined 7% compared with last year, with an average daily rate of $55. Mid-range hotels are between 2% and 3% cheaper this year, with an average nightly rate of $146 and $183, respectively, for AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated properties.


Hotel costs locally have increased since last Memorial Day, with the average AAA Three Diamond Rated hotel costing $192, or 5.6% more than last year. In Washington, D.C., Memorial Day holiday hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to average $192 per night, which is a 5.6% increase over last year according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. “Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels in Washington, D.C. can expect to pay an average cost of $164 per night, compared to $158 in 2018, an increase of 3.9%. “Nationwide, the cost of AAA Two Diamond Rates hotels decreased 3% from $151 to $146,” said Townsend. “At $62, the average daily cost of a car rental this Memorial Day in Washington, D.C. is 2% higher than last year.”


Meanwhile, airfares are holding steady compared with last Memorial Day, for an average roundtrip price of $171. “The average lowest round-trip is $195 from Washington, D.C. to Las Vegas, which is 2.1% higher than 2018,” Townsend explained. “The average lowest round-trip from New York to Washington, D.C. is $167 in comparison to $116 in 2018, which is an increase of 44.3%,” said Townsend.


AAA Mid-Atlantic to rescue more than 55,900 local motorists this Memorial Day, 353,000 Nationwide
AAA Mid-Atlantic expects to respond to rescue calls from more than 55,900 motorists this Memorial Day weekend. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. During the Memorial Day travel period in 2018, including the day after Memorial Day, AAA rescued nearly 1,320 drivers in Washington, D.C., over 10,000 in Maryland and 6,700 in Virginia. AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as a AAA Car Care Center in the mid-Atlantic, or one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities in North America.



AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. For the purposes of this forecast, the Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27. In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes, using macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2019 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast is available here.


About INRIX:
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.


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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and nearly 79,000 members in the District of Columbia.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit

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