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Memorial Day 2019: The worst times to leave NYC this weekend

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Prepare for heavy traffic starting on Wednesday

Max Touhey

Planning a trip out of town for Memorial Day weekend? So are a record number of travelers in the U.S.: Approximately 43 million people will go on some sort of trip over the long weekend, according to AAA, and you can bet that a lot of New Yorkers are going to be among them.

Getting out of New York City can be a soul-crushing experience under the best of circumstances, and it will be a lot worse over the long weekend. According to INRIX’s annual report, travel times out of the city are expected to nearly double today—not Friday, as in years past—with peak congestion in the late afternoon.

Per the report, traffic out of the city will be at its peak on Thursday from 4:45 to 6:45 p.m., but it will start getting bad earlier than that. “Travelers should anticipate delays to start on Wednesday and continue through Memorial Day,” Trevor Reed, a transportation analyst with INRIX, said in a statement. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid the morning and evening commuting times or plan alternate routes.”

And according to Port Authority, around six million travelers are expected to use the region’s airports, buses, bridges, and tunnels, including a nearly 3 percent increase in the number of people traveling through JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark. So even if you’re not driving, you can prepare for congestion and crowding. (The MTA will offer free service on the Q70 bus through Friday evening, which connects LaGuardia Airport to several subway lines—we highly recommend using it.)

So aside from, well, staying home, how can you make your out-of-town travel as easy as possible this weekend? Consider leaving at an odd time, or get a playlist (or a podcast) ready and just lean into the traffic.

And if it’s any consolation, it may not be any better if you stay in town this weekend; the INRIX report predicts that New York will be the second most popular destination for Memorial Day travelers this year.