Barbecues. Newly-uncovered pools. Permission to finally wear white again. Soul-crushing traffic, as the kids scream murder in the back seat.
Welcome to Memorial Day weekend, the grand American tradition that heralds the unofficial start to summer and some of the most crowded travel days of the year. More than 34 million people will drive more than 50 miles to celebrate over this year’s three-day hullabaloo, according to AAA. (The organization expects to rescue more than 330,000 drivers from lockouts, flat tires, and other roadside pickles.)
Traffic avoidance techniques are as personal as favorite rest stop restaurants. But there are real, data-based methods to avoiding travel-related derangement. Traffic analytics company Inrix draws 2014 and 2016 data from 300 million connected vehicles and devices (it has its own app), and has done the math to find out where you really, definitely should not drive during Memorial Day.
Below, you’ll find the most popular routes out of a handful major metropolitan areas, and the very worst times to hit the road if that’s your itinerary, too.
Don’t see your area on this list? Inrix senior economist Bob Pishue has some very general words of advice: “If you’re driving out of town this weekend, avoiding the afternoon commute on your way out and heading back Sunday or early Monday will allow you more time to relax this holiday weekend.” And if you really, truly must travel during these peak times, check out the route beforehand—there may be less-trafficked alternatives right off a highway near you.
Reminder: Toddlers can’t really tell the difference between the beach and your bathtub anyway. Probably.