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Nearly 1 Million DC-Area Travelers Will Hit the Road This Weekend

by Karen Goff — May 21, 2014 at 3:00 pm 1 Comment

Beltway Traffic/Credit: BethesdaNow.comMemorial Day weekend is almost here, and that means scores of Northern Virginia residents will hit the road for the big getaway.

Mid-Atlantic predicts that more than 900,000 DC-area residents will travel at least 50 miles during Memorial Day weekend.AAA officials say that almost 90 percent of those planning to travel during the holiday weekend will do so by car.

The expected number of travelers would be the highest since 2005 and the second most since 2001. Holiday air travel is expected to increase by 2.6 percent at the region’s three largest airports.

AAA Mid-Atlantic forecasts a 1.8 percent increase in the total number of holiday travelers leaving the region compared to Memorial Day 2013. Most of those (89.3 percent) are projected to travel by vehicle.The average gas price in Virginia is $3.48 per gallon, according to the web site GasBuddy.com. That’s slightly below the national average of $3.62. A year ago at this time, gas was $3.61 a gallon, according to AAA.

Filling up before you leave? Find the cheapest gas prices near you on GasBuddy.com.

File photo/ARLnow.com

Help your neighbors. Share your best tips to avoid Memorial Day traffic in the comments. 

  • Arielle in NoVA

    In addition to the most obvious one (fill up the car before you leave), here are some suggestions.

    Traffic avoidance:
    * don’t drive on 95 unless you absolutely have to

    * don’t go near DC on Sunday unless you’re IN Rolling Thunder or coming to watch it. And be sure to give the motorcycles plenty of space – double your stopping distance if you’re behind them; don’t break suddenly if you’re ahead of them.

    * find local roads that skirt trouble areas – check Google Maps or a similar source ahead of time and watch the traffic patterns for your route and destination

    * look up your destination and any big draws along the way. If there’s a concert or major-league game you’ll be passing, for example, you may get stuck on that road (between exits!) if you happen to go by there when people are arriving or leaving. It’s happened to us on 66, and it wasn’t even a holiday weekend.

    * when you stop to eat, try to avoid peak hours. Then you’ll hopefully be on the road more while most of the crowds are eating – meaning the roads *should* be emptier.

    In general, for those who don’t travel often, especially during holiday rushes around here:
    * use the facilities before getting on the road, particularly for anything that’s normally more than twenty minutes away – one backup or accident can make things very uncomfortable
    * always bring water and snacks – in case you get stuck in traffic, break down, or miss a turn and end up with a longer than expected trip. If you’re traveling with a pet, bring a BOWL for the water – they won’t always drink out of your hand. Always bring a leash/carrier and have it handy, as you may have to get out of your vehicle unexpectedly – don’t depend on having one just at the very end of your journey.
    * fully charge your electronics before your trip, and make sure you bring both the car and wall chargers and cables with you
    * if there’s any chance you’ll be swimming at your destination, bring your suit(s) and flip-flops – unless you want to be trying on swimsuits as part of your vacation
    * if you’re not familiar with the destination, look it up and print out a close-up, local map before you leave, preferably with directions. Jot down the closest major highway exit if it’s not already on the printout. That way if you run out of juice or connectivity you can still (hopefully!) find where you’re going.

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