I haven’t driven in that vicinity in a long while.
I’ll be driving from Wallingford CT to Baltimore MD next week and want to avoid traffic jams.
I could leave Monday (Memorial Day) evening if best but then I have an extra hotel night to pay for…or I could try to leave early enough to get past NYC before rush hour begins… or I could wait a little later Tuesday morning to let it clear.
If you leave later on Tuesday and cut over to the west before you get to the city it shouldn’t be too bad (maybe take the Tappan Zee Bridge?). The Jersey Turnpike isn’t exactly pleasant, but it should keep moving. Just bring plenty of money for tolls; between the Turnpike, Delaware, and Maryland it’ll add up.
You can give yourself an option. Get onto 95, or the Merritt/Hutch and once you get in range, listen to the NYC AM stations, 880 and 1010 both give traffic updates every 10 minutes (880 on the 8’s and 1010 on the 1’s). If everything is clear, the GWB is a more direct route, but if that route has traffic, you’re hearing about it early enough to change to the Tappan Zee.
If you have a smartphone I suggest the gps / traffic app Waze - it will actively change your route in response to traffic. Also make sure you have a way to charge your phone and support it like a suction cup to windshield.
I agree with others that the Merritt to the Tappan Zee to the Garden State Parkway to the NJ Turnpike is the best option. I also agree that listening to the traffic info (or an app) is a good idea. The only reason that I wouldn’t do the TZ bridge is if there was a huge accident there. The traffic report may say that the GWB is moving well, but they often ignore the fact that there is a two mile backup trying to get onto it.
I should note that the Merritt is a long slog going toward NYC in the morning. A couple of years ago, I drove from the NYC area (Hoboken, NJ) to Trumbull, CT, a couple of times a week for work (so glad that I left that job). Driving to Trumbull in the morning, I got to see the parking lot on the other side of the Merritt quite often. That was at 8 or so in the morning. So if you choose the Tuesday morning option, get out really early.
If you need traffic news once you get into Jersey, try 101.5 FM. I don’t know how often they do reports.
The Parkway and Turnpike usually move pretty well, but there’s been construction around exit 8A on the Turnpike lately that’s caused me some big problems the few times I’ve been down that way. (I’m not going to confuse you with alternate route suggestions, especially as they’re obvious from looking at a map.)
I haven’t lived there in a long time, and I’ve never owned a car there, but I’ve rented a car and driven in a couple of times. Look on something like mapquest and count your tolls. It’s possible (or, it used to be, and I assume it still is) to get a one-time use EZpass that deducts from your credit card. There’s a website for the EZpass, probably. If you hit traffic, it will save you about 10 minutes per toll, because visitors don’t know how much each toll is until they get there, and they count pennies and nickels. Plus, the cash tolls break down more.