If you're planning on traveling this weekend, you'll be headed into a kind of perfect storm: Good Friday, the start of Passover and spring break are all converging to make for clogged roads, busy airports and overcrowded train stations. Whatever way you are getting to your holiday destination, experts suggest you plan ahead and leave lots of time so unexpected hiccups won't dampen your time with family and friends.
If you are driving, AAA suggests you:
- Hit the road earlier or later than the typical travel times to avoid heavy traffic.
- Take your vehicle to a trusted repair shop to get needed maintenance before you leave.
- Map out your route in advance using a tool such as AAA's TripTik Travel Planner
- Make sure you prepare for an emergency by putting a flashlight, extra batteries, warning devices such as flares or reflective triangles, jumper cables, a first-aid kit and extra water in your vehicle.
- Pack books, games, music - and a pillow - for your passengers.
- Plan to make frequent stops - about every 100 miles or two hours - to help whoever is driving stay alert.
Before you fill up your tank, you might want to check websites like Fuelcaster, which predict the best day to fill up with the cheapest gas based on your zip code. It even displays the price per gallon at gas stations closest your route.
If you plan to fly during this holiday weekend, AirHelp, a company that says it can end your “flying woes,” suggests you:
- Arrive at the airport at least two hours before you're scheduled to take off because the Friday before Easter is such a busy travel day.
- Travel two days before or after the actual holiday to avoid large crowds.
- Fly into smaller neighboring airports; they tend to have cheaper tickets.
- Leave extra time traveling to and from the airport since there may be traffic.
During the Easter weekend in 2018 more than 20,000 flights at U.S. airports were either late or cancelled, and “passengers may find a similar experience this year,” said Henrik Zillmer, CEO of AirHelp, in an email. If you need a plane ticket this weekend and don't have one yet, don't panic. AirHelp says you still may be able to find a last-minute deal.
"Cheap fares are out there if you know how to find them, and flight prices sometimes drop as the desired departure date draws closer,” Zillmer said. “However, for the next holiday weekend, consider being flexible and selecting an off-peak travel day when booking flights.” Tuesday is the cheapest day of the week to fly, nearly $85 cheaper on average than the most expensive day to travel, Sunday.
For next year, the company recommends that when booking flights for spring, it's best to buy tickets 85 days in advance to get the lowest fares.
For those traveling by rail, Amtrak says that it also typically sees an increase in travel around Easter and Passover.
"From the Sunday before Easter to the Sunday after Easter, Amtrak has served an average of more than 90,000 passenger trips per day over the past two years,” says Kimberly Woods, Amtrak spokesperson. The Friday before Easter is Amtrak's peak travel day at about 105,000 to 110,000 passenger trips.
- Are encouraged to arrive 45 minutes before their train is schedule to depart.
- Should bring their tickets and make sure they have a valid photo ID.
- Can bring two bags and two carry-ons, up to 150 pounds, for free.
- Can bring cats and small dogs, 20 pounds or less, for trips up to seven hours on most routes for $26.