Looking to avoid Memorial Day traffic? Here are the worst times to leave Boston

Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/file

Experts are predicting that this Memorial Day weekend will be the busiest for travelers in more than a decade, with AAA forecasting a 5 percent increase in the number of holiday travelers over last year, even as gas prices tick up from record lows.

Estimated number of drivers taking to the road: nearly 42 million. That means you could be spending much more time than you’d like on Massachusetts highways this weekend if you don’t time your trip to avoid the slowdowns.

If you are planning to head out of town this week, timing your departure can make all the difference. Here are the worst times to hit the roads around the Boston area, according to traffic data from the navigation app Waze and AAA.

Worst times to leave town


Depending on whom you ask, you’ll want to avoid traveling either on Thursday afternoon or Friday afternoon.

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AAA estimates based on its survey data that Memorial Day drivers should avoid hitting the roadways between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.

But Waze, which analyzed its 2017 traffic data for the Boston area, predicts the worst of the traffic will hit on Friday.

But things don’t look much better for the procrastinators. Waze is predicting traffic to spike again Saturday between 11 a.m. and noon.

The specifics, according to AAA:

Thursday, May 24: 4:30-6:30 p.m.

The specifics, according to Waze:


Friday, May 25: 2-4 p.m.

Saturday, May 26: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Returning from your trip

If you’re looking to avoid too much company on the highways for your return trip, Waze recommends avoiding the midday hours on Sunday and Monday, and the afternoonon Tuesday.

The specifics, according to Waze:

Sunday, May 27: Noon-2 p.m.

Monday, May 28: Noon-2 p.m.


Tuesday, May 29: 3-5 p.m.

Keep in mind that these predictions are based on traffic from last Memorial Day weekend, when the weather was mostly dry.

This year, there’s a threat of rain for Saturday evening, Sunday, and Monday, according to forecasters.

Christina Prignano can be reached at