Lonely Planet Writer

Here’s where people are heading for the busiest Memorial Day for travel in more than a decade

If you’re looking to use your Memorial Day long weekend to get in some much-needed travel, prepare to hit the road early – this will be the busiest year for travel on the holiday since 2005.

View of El Capitain from inside a car driving in Yosemite valley, Yosemite National Park, California, USA. Model Release: 20060924_MR_A
View of El Capitain from inside a car driving in Yosemite valley, Yosemite National Park, California, USA.
Model Release: 20060924_MR_A Image by Tim McGuire/Getty Images

The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts that 39.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home over the weekend, which runs from 25 to 29 May. As Memorial Day is often viewed as the kick off to summer, it is a popular time for sun-seekers and travel-lovers to squeeze in a little vacation.

But with so many people travelling by road, rail and air, getting where you’re going may be a bit of a struggle. Nearly 90% of those travellers, or 34.6 million people, will be driving somewhere for their long weekend, while 2.9 million people are flying.

Disney characters perform in front of the Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida USA.
Disney characters perform in front of the Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida USA. Image by Blaine Harrington III/Getty Images

With cars as the most popular way to get around, most Americans are travelling within the USA. But, for those who are travelling abroad, Europe is particularly popular, according to AAA. Overall, the top destinations for Memorial Day, according to AAA travel bookings, are the home of Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, followed by Rome, Italy; London, England; Dublin, Ireland; Vancouver, Canada; Seattle, Washington; Las Vegas, Nevada; New York, New York; Paris, France and Honolulu, Hawaii.

Travel company Hotwire also looked at the most popular last-minute destinations for travellers, and naturally, most people are heading somewhere they can get a bit of sun. Florida was the most searched travel destination in the US, followed by California. In third place was New York State, as people on the East Coast look to visit the Big Apple or enjoy the beach in the Hamptons. Nevada – home of the ever-popular weekend destination of Las Vegas – also saw a more than 980% increase in people heading into the state, compared to those who want to leave for the holiday. Coming in fifth was Texas, where visitors can make the most of the beginning of warm weather.