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Prepare for traffic: Las Vegas 1 of top Memorial Day destinations

Updated May 24, 2021 - 12:33 pm

Memorial Day weekend should be a busy one in Las Vegas as tourists are expected to come to Southern Nevada in droves.

After a historically low turnout last year amid Las Vegas’ 78-day shutdown, a sense of normalcy is expected to return for the unofficial start of summer as Southern Nevada nears 100 percent reopening and travelers appear ready to get back on the road and in the air.

AAA forecasts a 60 percent increase in travel this holiday weekend, with Las Vegas and Orlando the top destinations for tourists.

Pent-up demand, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions and increasing numbers of people getting vaccinated have already led to large increases in the number of travelers coming from Southern California.

“Heavy traffic is expected during the Memorial Day weekend, especially along Interstate 15 and the Strip resort corridor,” said Tony Illia, Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman. “Although a full return to historic high visitor volumes is unlikely, traffic volumes at Primm have increased by 170 percent versus the same time last year. And while it’s still unknown what incremental traffic increases are likely this holiday, we are encouraging motorists to budget additional drive time and plan accordingly when making travel plans.”

AAA Nevada projects 37 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home for the holiday, an increase of 60 percent from 2020, when 23 million people traveled. That clip was the lowest on record since AAA began tracking travel data in 2000, according to Sergio Avila, AAA Nevada spokesperson.

If you want to miss the brunt of the traffic congestion next weekend, avoid driving on the afternoons of Thursday and Friday, as Avila said metro areas could experience double the normal travel times.

Planning ahead is recommended for anyone heading outside the area to ensure they’re not caught off-guard by any jurisdictions’ regulations.

That won’t involve much for those traveling into Las Vegas, as the majority of the city’s resorts are operating their casinos at full capacity and masks aren’t required for those who are fully vaccinated.

The holiday weekend marks the last one before Clark County drops its COVID mitigations entirely, as the area will reopen to 100 percent June 1.

Plan ahead

If you choose to travel by road for Memorial Day weekend, experts suggest making sure your vehicle is in proper working order.

Mymechanic.com suggests giving your vehicle a full inspection.

Test your battery: If your vehicle’s battery charge is below 12 volts or there is noticeable damage to the terminals, replacing your battery is recommended.

Check air filters: To ensure your vehicle’s air conditioner works at its optimal level, cleaning or changing air filters before a road trip is key.

Check tire pressure: Motorists should check the air pressure on their vehicle’s tires to ensure they’re at the suggested level. Low tire pressure can lead to lower gas mileage and even blowouts when traveling, especially in the desert heat.

Be prepared: When traveling through areas with extreme temperatures, it’s recommended to pack extra water, snacks, a flashlight and a blanket in case you find yourself unexpectedly stopped in an unpopulated area for a prolonged period.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter. Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com.

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