When are worst times to drive for Memorial Day? Take a look at Florida traffic forecast

What happens when millions of people hit the highway for Memorial Day weekend?

We’ll tell you. But you need to have some patience. Just like the kind you’ll need as you hit the brakes in all that traffic.

No secret here: Expect packed roads as drivers head to and from their holiday getaways. There’s not much you can do about it.

Or is there?

Unlike air travel, when you may be hemmed in by the time of your flight, you have a little more control as the captain of your vehicle.

To help get you around with less pain, AAA, the organization behind the emergency road service, has put together a best of times/worst of times schedule of when you should take to or stay off the streets during the holiday stretch.

MORE: Is your Miami or Fort Lauderdale flight delayed or canceled? Here’s how to check

How many of us are hitting the road?

The AAA estimates that more than 2 1/2 million Florida people will hit the road for a trip of 50 miles or more from Thursday, May 23, to Monday, May 27.

With travelers and commuters sharing the road before the weekend, AAA suggests leaving early to avoid the traditional morning rush hour when people heading to work and students are heading to school. And when returing on Monday after the fun ends, best advice is to avoid afternoon traffic as everyone else heads home from the holiday.

“Travel times are expected to be up to 90% longer than normal. Travelers should stay up to date on traffic apps, 511 services, and local news stations to avoid sitting in traffic longer than necessary,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, a transportation data firm.

If you’re staying in South Florida, that doesn’t mean you won’t hit traffic on local roadways. AAA lists Miami and Fort Lauderdale among the top destinations for Memorial Day travelers.

“Memorial Day will be the start to a very busy summer of travel,” said Debbie Haas, vice president of travel for AAA. “American travelers are forecast to surpass pre-pandemic levels, making this the busiest Memorial Day holiday weekend in nearly two decades.”

MORE: Gas in Miami is down 13 cents from a month ago. Will the trend stay for holiday travel?

The best and worst times to drive during the holiday stretch

Here’s a breakdown of the traffic forecast:

Thursday, May 23

Worst time: Noon to 6 p.m.

Best time: Before 11 a.m., After 7 p.m.

Friday, May 24

Worst time: Noon to 7 p.m.

Best time: Before 11 a.m., After 8 p.m.

Saturday, May 25

Worst time: 2 to 5 p.m.

Best time: Before 1 p.m., After 6 p.m.

Sunday, May 26

Worst time: 3 to 7 p.m.

Best time: Before 1 p.m.

Monday, May 27

Worst time: 3 to 7 p.m.

Best time: After 7 p.m.

How to find cheap gas near you

There’s an app to help: The GasBuddy app was built to show motorists prices around them and a fuel tracker can update users on stations that have or don’t have fuel based on supply changes.