Looks like we’re in for a busy Memorial Day travel weekend. One-third of you are planning a getaway, which is 7% more than last year, according to TripAdvisor’s summer travel survey. Of those planning an escape, three-quarters will be driving. As usual, roadways will be jam-packed on the first and last days of the long weekend: Friday, May 23, and Monday, May 26. How to avoid traffic, crowds, and hassles—and keep everyone in your car sane? Here are a few ideas for next weekend:
Drive early in the morning or late at night.
Earlier is safer, obviously. Consider taking Friday May 23 off and starting your drive at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m., so you’ve got empty roadways for three hours or so. (If you’ve got young kids, throw them in the car in their pajamas, and hopefully they’ll sleep through the first portion of the drive.) Can’t take Friday off from work? Drive Saturday morning, starting out before dawn.
Consider spending Monday night at your destination.
Hotel rates will be lower on Monday the 26th than on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before. Rather than drive back late Monday night, consider sleeping at your destination and driving back early Tuesday before the morning rush-hour commute.
Plot your route ahead of time; have a Plan A and a Plan B.
Before leaving home, study a map, predict where the traffic will be (city centers, ring roads, highways that everyone uses to get to the beach or the lake), and plot a route to avoid it. Figure out a back-up route too, in case your first choice turns out to be everyone else’s.
This is a good time of year for it, given the cooperative weather and hours of daylight. Make the road less traveled part of your weekend adventure.
Download a few apps for use in your car.
If your car GPS isn’t good at factoring in traffic conditions, download an app such as Waze that gives you real-time traffic data and provides the fastest route. Download the GasBuddy app too, as it will point you to the closest gas station with the least expensive gas.
Carry a smartphone car charger and maybe even a power inverter.
The more you use the aforementioned apps, the more you’ll need to recharge your smartphone in the car, of course. Personally, I always bring a power inverter too, so I can work on my laptop. (Why not be productive while you’re stuck in traffic?) I plug my DC-to-AC power inverter into the car’s power outlet and type away for hours in the passenger seat while my husband drives.
Pack plenty of car snacks and water.
Don’t waste time pulling off the highway, searching for food and parking spots, and waiting in long lines at rest stops. Have what you need in the car.
Haven’t made your travel plans yet? Go where everyone else isn’t.
Avoid the beach, which is where 29% of TripAdvisor travelers are going for the weekend. Consider a national park: Only 10% are headed to one.