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Seattle Among Top 10 Most Popular Memorial Day Destinations; Also Top 10 Worse Traffic, says AAA

Memorial Day Holiday Travel Expected To Increase 3.6% Compared To 2018

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Nearly 43 million Americans will mark the unofficial start of summer with a Memorial Day weekend getaway, a 3.6% increase from last year. With Seattle ranking #6 on AAA’s list of Top Destinations, many of those travelers will be headed to the Emerald City. Despite rising gas prices, the vast majority of holiday travelers will reach their destinations by personal vehicle. Holiday road trippers have also landed Seattle on INRIX’s list of top 10 worse congested roadways for the busy weekend.

By the numbers: 2019 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast

  • The vast majority of travelers – 37.6 million – will hit the road this year, the most ever on record for the holiday, 3.5% more than last year.
  • Planes: 3.25 million people will travel by air, 4.8% more than last year
  • Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 3.8% to 1.9 million passengers.

Higher gas prices not deterring travelers

Gas prices have increased nationally by more than 30 cents in the last two months with the national average at $2.86. Average gas prices around the Pacific Northwest surpassed $3 per gallon a while ago: $3.54 in Washington (14 cents higher than a year ago), $3.43 in Oregon (up 13 cents), $3.20 in Idaho (up a nickle). Despite costs like these, 88% of travelers will choose to drive to their Memorial Day destinations this year, the most on record.

Drivers beware: Worst times to hit the road

For the 37.6 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, expects a majority of drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24 in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. For Seattle, the longest delays will happen on Memorial Day (Monday, May 27) as drivers return to the city, via I90 West, between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.

Metro AreaWorst Day for TravelWorst Time for TravelDelay Multiplier of Normal Trip
AtlantaThursday, May 234:30 – 6:30 PM2.2x
BostonMonday, May 273:45 – 5:45 PM3.0x
ChicagoFriday, May 243:30 – 5:30 PM1.6x
DetroitFriday, May 242:30 – 4:30 PM1.7x
HoustonSunday, May 262:15 – 4:15 PM1.0x
Los AngelesFriday, May 244:30 – 6:30 PM1.0x
New YorkThursday, May 234:45 – 6:45 PM2.0x
San FranciscoSaturday, May 251:00 – 3:00 PM1.6x
SeattleMonday, May 273:30 – 5:30 PM1.0x
Washington, D.C.Monday, May 273:45 – 5:45 PM3.0x

Top Memorial Day travel destinations

Seattle ranks #6 on the most popular destinations behind Orlando, New York City and Las Vegas. Advance AAA bookings show Memorial Day weekend trips to warmer temperatures in Hawaii, Arizona, California and Tampa, Florida.

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. New York, New York
  3. Las Vegas, Nevada
  4. Honolulu, Hawaii
  5. Anaheim, California
  6. Seattle, Washington
  7. Phoenix, Arizona
  8. Anchorage, Alaska
  9. Tampa, Florida
  10. San Francisco, California

For those travelers planning an international vacation for Memorial Day, Europe is the destination of choice. Rome, London, Dublin and Paris are the most popular locales for international vacations this Memorial Day weekend, with Vancouver, Canada, rounding out the top five.

According to Hertz, a more than 40-year AAA partner, the busiest airport pick-up locations for travelers renting a car this Memorial Day are expected to be Orlando (MCO), Los Angeles (LAX), Denver (DEN), Las Vegas (LAS), and San Francisco (SFO). The busiest day for rental pick-ups is expected to be Friday, May 24, with an average rental length of nearly five days, as travelers look to take advantage of the long holiday weekend.

Travelers to see relief in lower hotel and car rental costs

While road trippers are paying more 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. Meanwhile, airfares are holding steady compared with last Memorial Day, for an average roundtrip price of $171.

AAA to rescue more than 353,000 motorists

AAA expects to be called on to rescue more than 353,000 motorists at the roadside this Memorial Day weekend. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble.

AAA recommends motorist take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip. Be prepared for emergencies with a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers.


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 AAA Washington:

AAA Washington was established in 1904 by 10 prominent Seattleites determined to champion the betterment of motoring conditions and laws, the preservation of Washington state’s natural beauty and the promotion of Washington as an unrivaled tourist destination. Nearly 120 years later, the club continues to pursue these on behalf of its 1.2 million members. 

Members of AAA Washington receive exclusive benefits, including roadside assistance, discounts on hotels and rental cars, comprehensive insurance options, and personalized trip planning. AAA Washington was named a Best Place to Work by Puget Sound Business Journal and voted the best Travel/Tourism Company by 425 Business readers in 2023, and AAA was named one of the most trusted travel and automotive brands in the U.S. Additional information is available through the company’s Washington and northern Idaho stores and at 

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:

Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit

Media Contact

Fearey o/b/o AAA Washington 

Twitter: @AAA_Washington
Facebook: AAA Washington
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Interested in planning your next road trip with AAA Washington? Call your travel agent directly or your nearest AAA store to get pro tips, TripTik maps, and more. Find more Pacific Northwest scenic drives and road trips.

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