Memorial Day Weekend Travel: Here's When Chicago Traffic Is Expected to Be the Worst

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Traveling this Memorial Day weekend? According to AAA, you're one of 39.2 million people hitting the road for it this year.

And, thanks to inflation, gas, hotels and flights are all expected to be significantly more expensive.

Here's a breakdown of what you can expect to pay for gas, what traffic and weather is predicted to be like, and the best and worst times to hit the road for one of the city's busiest travel weekends.

Gas Prices

For the first time, gas prices across the country are at or above $4 per gallon in all 50 states, AAA says.

As of Friday, the national average for a regular gallon gas cost $4.59. In Illinois, the average is even higher than that -- at $4.96

In Cook County, the average is above $5 -- at $5.27.

AAA recommends travelers can save money by searching for best gas prices along their routes, as gas can often be 40-60 cents cheaper away from a highway.

Traveling by Car

According to transportation data from INRIX, Chicago contains one of the worst corridors in the country for Memorial Day road travel: I-290 E, IL-110 to Racine Ave.

And with a rainy and foggy start to the day Friday, your travel time could increase depending on what time you leave.

If are planning to hit the road this weekend, here are the best and worst times to do so:

May 27

  • Worst time: 12-7 p.m.
  • Best time: Before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m.

May 28

  • Worst time: 1-6 p.m.
  • Best time: Before 10 a.m.

May 29

  • Worst time: 1-4 p.m.
  • Best time: Before 10 a.m.

May 30

  • Worst time: 1-4 p.m.
  • Best time: Before 11 a.m.

Traveling by Plane

According to the Chicago Department of Aviation, more than 1.4 million travelers to the O’Hare and Midway International Airports are expected between May 26 May 31.

For O'Hare, that's a 47.4% increase over the same period last year.

There are currently no mask mandates at either airport, and most airlines have dropped their mask requirements as well.

If you're traveling through O'Hare, be aware that construction is taking place in Terminal 5 and along the curbsides of Terminals 1, 2 and 4.

According to AAA, the average lowest airfare is 6% more than last year's average lowest fare, and Saturday is the most expensive day to fly.

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