Grasonville, MD (Wednesday, May 24, 2023) – As the Memorial Day holiday weekend approaches, an estimated 853,000 Marylanders are preparing to join the 42.3 million Americans who will be traveling 50 miles or more from home. This represents an increase of over 6% in Maryland travel compared to last year, but it is still 6% less than the pre-pandemic holiday travel in 2019. Nationally, the number of travelers reflects a 7% increase over 2022, with 2.7 million more people projected to travel for the unofficial start of summer compared to last year.

Ragina Cooper Ali, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Maryland and Washington, D.C., stated, “Americans, including those in our region, are ready to kick off the Memorial Day weekend with a trip.” In Maryland and the Washington, D.C. Metro area, AAA expects this to be the fourth busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000, when AAA started tracking holiday travel. Nationally, it is expected to be the third busiest Memorial Day on record.

To mark the start of the summer vacation season, Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller, AAA, Ocean City Tourism, law enforcement officials, and traffic safety advocates gathered at the annual event held near the water at Bridges Restaurant in Grasonville. Lieutenant Governor Miller addressed the status of Governor Moore’s Work Zone Safety Workgroup and emphasized the commitment of the Moore-Miller Administration to making roadways safer for motorists and workers.

According to AAA’s travel projections, the majority of Maryland residents will opt for the “Great American Road Trip,” with nearly 755,000 Marylanders expected to drive to their holiday destinations. This represents a 6% increase over last year and accounts for approximately 90% of Maryland travelers over the holiday weekend. Lower gas prices compared to last year are expected to contribute to the popularity of road trips, particularly to Eastern Shore beaches and Western Maryland lakes.

While road trips dominate, air travel is also experiencing an uptick. Almost 71,000 Marylanders are projected to fly to their destinations, an increase of approximately 7.5% over last year. Nationally, AAA estimates that around 3.4 million travelers will choose air travel for Memorial Day, an 11% increase compared to last year. However, air travel in Maryland remains down nearly 4% compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Other modes of transportation, including cruises, buses, and trains, are gaining popularity this holiday season. Nationwide, these travelers are expected to reach 1.85 million, a significant increase of 20.6% over 2022. In Maryland, over 27,000 travelers are expected to choose these alternative transportation modes, representing an 18% increase from last year and surpassing pre-pandemic numbers by over 17%. Domestic cruises and drivable hometown ports are especially popular choices this year.

Law enforcement officers across the state will be vigilant during the holiday weekend, as over 37 million Americans, including nearly 755,000 Marylanders, hit the roads. Their focus will be on ensuring the safety of all motorists and travelers. Police officials and traffic safety advocates urge drivers to take responsibility by obeying traffic laws, driving sober, and adhering to Maryland’s Slow Down, Move Over laws. Recent incidents, such as a Maryland State Trooper being struck and injured in a work zone, highlight the need for caution and responsible driving.

Kurt Erickson, President of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), emphasized the importance of driving sober and buckling up during the summer months, which historically have a higher incidence of traffic-related fatalities involving drunk drivers.

AAA offers several tips for travelers regardless of their chosen mode of transportation. For those driving, it is essential to ensure that the vehicle is in good condition by scheduling a thorough inspection. AAA recommends making an appointment at their Car Care, Insurance, and Travel center or finding a trusted mechanic for a bumper-to-bumper check-up. Additionally, it is crucial to have a summer emergency kit on hand, including a fully charged cellphone, jumper cables, a first aid kit, and extra blankets, among other items.

AAA also advises travelers to check their flight status before heading to the airport, arrive early to account for crowds, and review TSA guidelines for security procedures. Travel insurance is recommended to mitigate unexpected circumstances, and booking flights, car rentals, accommodations, and activities in advance is advised due to high demand and limited availability.

As travelers prepare for the holiday weekend, flexibility and patience are key, considering potential delays and challenges in staffing at airports, hotels, and restaurants. Planning ahead and packing a good dose of patience will contribute to a smoother travel experience.

The Memorial Day travel projections were developed through a collaboration between AAA and S&P Global Market Intelligence. The forecast utilizes economic variables such as employment, output, household net worth, and travel-related factors like gasoline prices and airline travel to estimate travel volumes accurately. Historical travel volume estimates are sourced from DK SHIFFLET’s TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/MonitorSM, which surveys over 50,000 U.S. households to collect travel data.

While Maryland anticipates an increase in Memorial Day travel compared to last year, the numbers remain below pre-pandemic levels. However, the rise in travel indicates a positive trend as people regain confidence in venturing out for vacations and leisure activities. As the summer months approach, it is crucial for travelers to prioritize safety, follow traffic laws, and make responsible decisions to ensure a memorable and accident-free holiday weekend.

In summary, Maryland expects over 850,000 residents to travel during the Memorial Day weekend, reflecting a slight increase compared to last year. The majority of travelers will opt for road trips, while air travel and alternative modes of transportation also show signs of recovery. Law enforcement officials emphasize the importance of safe driving practices, particularly during the busy holiday season. AAA provides valuable tips and advice for travelers, encouraging them to plan ahead, prioritize vehicle safety, and remain patient and flexible throughout their journey.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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