Car Culture

These are the worst times to leave and return to Boston this Memorial Day weekend

Plan on leaving as early as possible.

Boston Traffic
Traffic on northbound I-93 in Boston. Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff Photo

If your travel plans this Memorial Day weekend include driving, you’re not alone. AAA predicts that 34.6 million Americans will drive to their holiday weekend destinations this year, marking the third consecutive year of growth and an increase of 2.4 percent over 2016.

“The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year,” Mary Maguire, a AAA Northeast official, said in a statement. “Higher confidence has led to more consumer spending, and many Americans are choosing to allocate their extra money on travel this Memorial Day.”

We asked the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, AAA Northeast, and Waze to help us identify when to hit the road this holiday weekend. Their mantra? Leave as early as possible to avoid the biggest rushes out of or back into Boston.


Here’s what else you should keep in mind:

When leaving Boston…

Roadways across Massachusetts are expected to be busiest between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, according to Patrick Marvin, a MassDOT spokesperson. MassDOT’s long-standing construction policy on holiday weekends will continue this year, and the department will stop scheduled roadway construction at noon on Friday.

Waze, a traffic and navigation mapping app, predicts that traffic jams will increase 16 percent on Thursday and 20 percent on Friday, based on analyzing 2016 Boston traffic patterns over Memorial Day weekend.

When returning to Boston…

Peak traffic is expected to end 7 p.m. Monday evening, according to Marvin. MassDOT will resume roadway construction after 11 p.m. on Monday.

Throughout the weekend…

You can get up-to-the-minute traffic information from the following sources:

• Visit live-updating traffic maps online at or visit

• Download traffic apps like AAA, Waze, or GoTime.

• Call 511 from your cell, or tune your radio to WBZ News Radio 1030.