Memorial Day Weekend Traffic

I’m going to be driving from DC to North Jersey over Memorial Day weekend. I can drive up on either Friday or Saturday: I’ve never traveled on that weekend before, so I’m wondering whether traffic (on I-95 and the NJ Turnpike) is likely to be worse on one of those days vs the other. I need to get on the stick regarding my B&B reservation, so I don’t have much longer to dither over this.

I lean toward driving up on Saturday, to save a night’s hotel/kennel costs, but I can’t shake the feeling that traffic on Saturday will be way worse…I’ll happily pay the extra night’s costs if it means an easier drive. Maybe it doesn’t really matter, though.

What do you think? Everyone is welcome to vote/comment, but if anyone regularly drives up 95N over Memorial Day weekend I’d love to hear from you. :slight_smile:

I voted for Friday…but…er…I voted on the basis of southern California traffic patterns. Should I not have voted at all, as you were only looking for your specific local traffic patterns? My opinion is that it’s going to be pretty much true everywhere: the “getaway day” traffic will be worse.

Since not everyone takes Friday off, because they already have Monday. I voted for Saturday.

I voted for Friday, but only late afternoon and evening. People seem to leave work early, or leave right after work to hit the road.

Thanks to everyone who has voted/posted so far! Right now the consensus is that Friday will be worse. It’s such a silly thing to be so on the fence about. :slight_smile:

Pai325 makes a good point about Friday afternoon/evening: if I decide to drive up on Friday, I’ll take the whole day off work and leave in the morning.

Nope: like my OP says, everyone is welcome to vote/comment!

I’m more familiar with I95 north and south of DC than I care to be, and I know that the Friday before a holiday weekend is nuts on the road. People will take that day off to get a 4-day weekend, or they’ll leave early.

Friday will definitely suck worse!

You could try driving up earlier on Saturday morning. I’ve done a lot of travel during that time period and leaving early, like 6 or so, on a Saturday morning has always worked out well for me. That is of course if you can/want to get up that early.

Where in New Jersey are you planning on going? When I leave from just north of DC I tend to go north on 270, up US 15 then cut east. It adds some time, but it keeps the tolls minimal and traffic a lot less.

Yeah, I’d leave on Friday right after morning rush hour, or I’d leave Thursday evening and stay that night in a cheap motel near my destination. I really hate getting stuck in DC holiday traffic.

Normally, driving to NJ on a holiday weekend would be a nonstarter for me. Frankly I’m kind of dreading it, and I think it will suck either day. But my dad – who lives in Baltimore – has orchestrated a small family reunion that weekend, and 95% of my aunts/uncles/cousins live in NJ. It would really upset him if I skipped it, especially just because of the drive.

Right now I’m leaning heavily toward driving up on Saturday, and just taking my chances. If all goes smoothly I’ll arrive around 3pm, but my only plans that day will be going to my cousin’s for dinner so even if it takes an extra hour – or two – it’ll be no big deal. Just annoying. :wink:

I keep going back and forth in my head between this line of thinking and Honey’s, that people won’t go for the 4-day weekend. It’s such a big beach weekend, though, that I tend to agree with you.

Yeah, that won’t work for me. :smiley:

I’m going to Glenwood, NJ; about an hour northwest of NYC. It’s funny, when I looked at a map I thought “270/70 and 15 are WAY too far out of the way!” but when I had Google give me directions it said that route would only take 10-15 minutes longer (all traffic being equal) and it’s actually 3 miles shorter. Heh! I’ll have to keep that in mind. I tend to worry about smaller roads taking longer due to lower speed limits, traffic lights, etc.: how is Rt. 15 up there? Also, are there rest stops along that route?

It’s about a 6-hour drive, and typically when I drive up there I target being on the road from 9am-3pm. That usually works out well.

I thought about driving up Thursday night – leaving after work would get me there around 11pm/midnight – but it’s not really an option: there are no motels or hotels where I’m going, the innkeepers won’t allow an arrival that late, and it would be an extra night’s kennel fee. Coming back, though, I’ll drive home Monday night (I’m taking Tuesday off work).

That route is actually pretty good in regards to traffic lights and such. Your worst part, should you leave on Friday afternoon will be 270 between about mile marker 10 and I-70. Once you get north of Frederick traffic will thin out a lot. There will be no traffic lights until you get about 10 miles south of Harrisburg. After that it looks like it’s all highway.

Harrisburg might be a bit hairy, but that’s not a huge place. I don’t know the roads after you’d get off around Easton. Honestly that might be your best bet, far better then the tolls and traffic on 95. There are no tolls going north, I think there’s a $.50 or $1 toll coming back in to PA from Jersey but that would be it. I used to always go that way going to NYC and north, just far easier on the soul.

Do watch out for cops on US15 between Frederick and at least Thurmont, the limit is 55 and I would guess you’d catch a lot of cops that weekend.

ETA: Forgot, there are a couple of rest stops on the way. And plenty of places at least until after Harrisburg. Above Harrisburg it’s a lot of open land, but there are places to stop. Also if you see a guy on a motorcycle going towards Frederick on Saturday morning that might be me.


I’m fairly certain I’ll take my chances with 95 on the way up, but I may just try the 15/70/270 thing on the way home. :slight_smile:

On Friday you will also be fighting work Traffic. Luckily you will be going against the main flow. In the evening most Traffic goes south. this is doubly true on a Holiday weekend where everyone is heading to the shore but I suspect if you went a Saturday traffic North will be much lighter. I don’t know if it will enough to sacrifice an extra day of your trip but lighter.