Traveling in Chicago for Memorial Day Weekend? Expect to Hit Traffic, Pay More for Gas

More than 39.2 million people are estimated to travel 50 miles or more this year for Memorial Day Weekend, according to AAA. And, thanks to inflation, gas, hotels and flights are all expected to be significantly more expensive this year.

Here's a breakdown of what your travel expenses may be, and what the best and worst times to hit the road in Chicago are.

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. Saturday is the most expensive day to fly.

Traveling by Car

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

As of Thursday, the national average for a regular gallon gas cost $4.60. In Illinois, the average is more than 3 cents higher, at $4.966.

Cook County's average is even higher -- at $5.26.

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.

According to transportation data from INRIX, Chicago contains one of the worst corridors in the country for Memorial Day road travel.

May 26 from 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., from I-290 E, IL-110 to Racine Ave., traffic is expected to be 131% more congested than normal traffic patterns.

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

May 26

  • Worst time: 1-8 p.m.
  • Best time: Before 6 a.m. or after 9 p.m.

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.
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