Traveling this Memorial Day weekend? According to AAA, you’re one of 39.2 million people hitting the road for it this year.
And, thanks to inflation, gas, hotels and flights are all expected to be significantly more expensive.
Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to pay for gas, what traffic and weather is predicted to be like, and the best and worst times to hit the road for one of the city’s busiest travel weekends.
For the first time, gas prices across the country are at or above $4 per gallon in all 50 states, AAA says.
As of Friday, the national average for a regular gallon gas cost $4.59. In Illinois, the average is even higher than that — at $4.96
In Cook County, the average is above $5 — at $5.27.
AAA recommends travelers can save money by searching for best gas prices along their routes, as gas can often be 40-60 cents cheaper away from a highway.
Traveling by Car
According to transportation data from INRIX, Chicago contains one of the worst corridors in the country for Memorial Day road travel: I-290 E, IL-110 to Racine Ave.
And with a rainy and foggy start to the day Friday, your travel time could increase depending on what time you leave.
If are planning to hit the road this weekend, here are the best and worst times to do so:
- Worst time: 12-7 p.m.
- Best time: Before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Worst time: 1-6 p.m.
- Best time: Before 10 a.m.
- Worst time: 1-4 p.m.
- Best time: Before 10 a.m.
- Worst time: 1-4 p.m.
- Best time: Before 11 a.m.
Traveling by Plane
According to the Chicago Department of Aviation, more than 1.4 million travelers to the O’Hare and Midway International Airports are expected between May 26 May 31.
For O’Hare, that’s a 47.4% increase over the same period last year.
There are currently no mask mandates at either airport, and most airlines have dropped their mask requirements as well.
If you’re traveling through O’Hare, be aware that construction is taking place in Terminal 5 and along the curbsides of Terminals 1, 2 and 4.
According to AAA, the average lowest airfare is 6% more than last year’s average lowest fare, and Saturday is the most expensive day to fly.
The countdown to summer is on, and experts predict it is going to be one of the busiest travel seasons we’ve seen in a while.
“It was a long two years,” said Wendy Marley, a travel advisor with AAA in Newton. “The jump in travel from 2021 up to 2022, the increase is the highest that we’ve seen year over year since 2010.”
“A lot of people are sitting on a lot of cash that they never got to use in the past two summers and you know this is the summer that they are going to take it,” said Lousson Smith, a product operations specialist at Scott’s Cheap Flights.
People definitely want to get away this year. Hotels are booking up and rental cars are in short supply.
The National Parks, Orlando, Alaska, Canada, Aruba and Greece and Italy are hot destinations.
With gas prices at record highs, you may want to shorten your road trip or consider Amtrak. And when it comes to airfares, the sooner you book the better, so hurry up.
“You still might find a great fare for late June or mid to late August,” said Smith. “As soon as you see a fare that you’re comfortable with, go ahead and book it. You’re entitled to a 24-hour period where you can cancel for free.”
And once you book, keep an eye on the fares in case you see your flight offered for a cheaper price later.
“You can call up the airlines if you booked an economy ticket or higher and they will refund you the difference of that fare in the form of a credit,” said Smith. “So, as soon as you see a price that you like, go ahead and book it and use those tools to your advantage to make sure you’re getting the most value for your money.”
Being flexible with dates and destinations is the single best way to find an affordable option. Smith recommends going for the cheapest flight you can find and building your adventure from there.
He suggested using websites like Google, Kayak or Scott’s Cheap Flights to find options that fit your budget.
“We put in a few different parameters, see which destinations come up and say, ‘hey, listen, if you go Tuesday to Tuesday, the airfare looks really great,'” said Marley. “If you give us some direction, whether it’s Caribbean or domestic…. it’s very easy to search and find deals.”
International travel still isn’t back to pre-pandemic levels, so you have a chance of snagging a deal on airfare. But if you are traveling internationally check with each country you’re visiting regarding their COVID-19 restrictions.
“Some are requiring tests, some just require proof of vaccination, some have forms you need to fill out, so it’s very important to check and make sure that you’re complying with that so that they don’t deny you entry,” said Marley. “A lot of the Caribbean destinations have dropped restrictions. But again, you know, you never know. There could be an island here or there that does require either testing or want you to fill out a passenger locator form. So just very important to make sure that you check with that destination.”
She recommends packing extra COVID test kits with you just in case you feel ill during your trip and travel insurance in the event that you have to extend your stay unexpectedly.
“Travel insurance is extremely important to have with airlines having last minute schedule changes, flight delays due to weather, and mechanical issues,” said Marley. “It’s very important to make sure you have travel insurance because they can cover you for trip delay or travel interruption.”
Be prepared for the flight cancellations and delays that we saw in the spring to continue into the summer. And, remember, under federal law, if an airline cancels or significantly changes your flight itinerary and you choose not to accept the alternative offer by the carrier, you’re eligible for a refund.
What constitutes a significant schedule change varies by airline, so check their policies.
And, although we are just gearing up for summer, and you probably don’t want to hear this, travel experts say right now you should really be thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas flights. You need to book early to get the best deals for those busy times.
An online travel magazine recently revealed its list of the most beautiful places in each of the 50 states, and its choice for Illinois may come as a surprise to some residents.
While Illinois is blessed with a wide variety of incredible natural areas, including Starved Rock State Park, the Little Grand Canyon in the Shawnee National Forest and so many more, Travel & Leisure’s editorial staff ended up choosing Cache River State Natural Area as it’s “Most Beautiful Place” in the Land of Lincoln.
“You might think you’re deep in a Louisiana bayou in this bald cypress and tupelo swamp, the northernmost of its kind in the U.S.,” the magazine said.
According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the park is located in the southern tip of Illinois, and was carved out by glacial floodwaters from the Ohio River.
Comprised of nearly 15,000 acres, the state says that the park has been designated as a “Wetland of International Importance” because of its importance to migratory waterfowl and shorebirds.
Visitors can check out the park in a myriad of ways, including hiking, biking and canoeing, according to the IDNR.
For Chicago residents, the site does represent a bit of a haul travel-wise. The park’s entrance is approximately 353 miles from NBC Tower in Chicago, representing a drive of nearly six hours.
By contrast, the Indiana winner of the “Most Beautiful Place,” Hemlock Cliffs, is 300 miles from NBC Tower, and can be reached in five and a half hours.
Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (339 miles) is also closer, and Ohio’s Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is nearly identical in terms of distance from the Windy City.
In fact, the closest “Most Beautiful Place” to Chicago isn’t in Illinois, Wisconsin or Indiana. It’s actually in Iowa, with Maquoketa Caves State Park checking in at a breezy 192 miles from the city.
Memorial Day Weekend is expected to be both busy and expensive this year with inflation driving up travel costs.
It’s not great timing for the unofficial start of summer, which kicks off this coming weekend. Nearly 40 million people are expected to travel ahead of the long weekend, which is up 4% from last year. Add that on top of the skyrocketing prices for gas, airfare car rentals, and you have yourself a pretty big headache.
Average domestic flight prices are up 46% from 2019. Some flights are already sold out for weeks and, unfortunately, things are not much better on the ground.
It’s hard not to notice the skyrocketing cost of fuel with people thinking about driving during the upcoming summer vacation — or even driving to the corner store. A gallon of regular gas in Massachusetts is now $4.47, according to AAA — up 17 cents from last week. A year ago, it was $2.89.
Gas prices are expected to average close to $4.65 by next weekend, which is a 51% increase over last year. So how do you make the best of it and try to avoid all the stress if you’re driving? The worst roads in the region area to travel are the Expressway south and Purchase Street from Route 24, according to AAA.
The times that you want to avoid driving are Thursday and Friday between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. The best time to drive is early in the morning before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.
For those who are heading home Monday, the best time to drive is after 11 a.m. because the traffic will be worse in the afternoon. For those who are flying, experts suggest booking midweek and early morning flights as well.
Whether driving or flying, the cost to travel continues to rise. Airline fares saw a record increase in April.
With warmer weather arriving, many of us are dreaming about summer vacations.
“I might be taking a trip up to Maine or New Hampshire, do a little bit of hiking, do a little bit of biking,” said Christopher Kempf of Windsor.
Kempf said he’s not going to let the cost of gasoline get in the way of traveling.
“It’s just a few gallons of gas to get up there, so I’m not too concerned. I’ve got a Prius, so things could be worse,” said Kempf.
With many making plans, gas prices only seem to be going up.
AAA said the average price of a gallon of regular gas in the state is $4.40. That’s up from $4.23 a week ago. Last year at this time, drivers were paying far less at $3.04.
“It doesn’t matter to me because I need to go,” said Nhan Ma of Windsor Locks.
Ma will travel by plane this summer, and rising costs are hitting that industry, too.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported airline fares rose sharply by nearly 19% in April – that’s a one-month increase record.
“The airfare has been going up for the last few weeks, and I’m afraid it will go up even more significantly in the next few months,” said Quinnipiac University International Business Professor Dr. Mohammad Elahee.
Elahee said there are two factors behind the surge: the demand for travel and the increase in costs for labor and jet fuel.
He said many families increased the amount in their savings account during the pandemic by staying home and getting stimulus money from the government, and their desire to travel now will mean consumer demand will still be there even with the higher prices.
“I think more people will be traveling internationally, more people will be traveling domestically,” Elahee said.
Elahee believes the higher prices we’re seeing are going to be here until at least September.
How far do the Bears have to travel in the 2022 NFL season? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Each NFL team has long known where they would be playing their games for the 2022 season. Soon, they will know when.
The NFL schedule release is set for Thursday night, presenting teams with their full roadmap for the 2022 season. A handful of games have already been announced, including the first Thursday Night Football game, one of the Christmas contests and all five international games. But Thursday’s release will offer every team its entire slate.
With the 17-game schedule implemented for the 2021 season, NFL teams now have an unequal number of home and away games. Teams that had nine home and eight road games last season will have nine road and eight home games during the 2022 regular season. Teams that had an extra road game in 2021 will get an extra home game in 2022, as well.
Between the 17th game and some teams having to travel outside the U.S., there will be lots of travel during the 2022 campaign. Here’s a look at which ones will be flying the furthest, along with which ones will be staying close to home:
Which NFL team has to travel the most in 2022?
The Seattle Seahawks will accumulate the most mileage this season, according to Bill Speros.
That comes as a bit of a surprise considering they only have eight road games and four are in the Pacific time zone. Three of those are divisional contests against the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams, along with a second trip to SoFi Stadium to face the Los Angeles Chargers.
Two of their games will be in the Central time zone, as they will be visitors against the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs. The Seahawks’ road matchup against the Detroit Lions is the only one in the Eastern time zone all season.
So how did they land at the top of the list? Well, they have to travel over 5,000 miles to make history in Munich. The Seahawks will play their “road” matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Allianz Arena on Nov. 13 for the NFL’s first ever regular season game in Germany.
In total, the Seahawks are set to travel 29,446 miles and cross a league-high 34 time zones during the 2022 season.
Here’s how Seattle compares to the top-five teams listed by total travel miles for the coming season:
1. Seattle Seahawks: 29,446 miles, 34 time zones
2. Denver Broncos: 27,398 miles, 32 time zones
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: 25,534 miles, 22 time zones
4. Miami Dolphins: 25,178 miles, 14 time zones
5. New Orleans Saints: 24,976 miles, 30 time zones
The Dolphins are the only team in the top five that will not play an international game in 2022.
Which NFL team has to travel the least in 2022?
Jet lag should not be a problem for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season.
The Steelers have the lowest mileage total at 6,442 and will not have to travel out of the Eastern time zone once during the regular season. Unlike the Seahawks, the Steelers actually have an extra road game on their schedule, too.
Pittsburgh is within 300 miles of all of its AFC North foes, so road games against the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns don’t add much to the team’s total. They also have an in-state road matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. Their remaining road games are against the Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons.
Here’s a look at the five teams that will travel the least in 2022:
28. Chicago Bears: 10,086 miles, 8 time zones
29. Cleveland Browns: 9,986 miles, 2 time zones
30. Baltimore Ravens: 9,500 miles, 2 time zones
31. Detroit Lions: 8,348 miles, 8 time zones
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: 6,442 miles, 0 time zones