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What to expect if you're traveling this Memorial Day

Memorial Day, the traditional kickoff to the summer travel season, is coming up fast — and all signs point to headaches.

About 39% of Americans plan to travel for the holiday weekend, and while most (89%) will be driving, 2.6 million travelers are expected to fly to their destination, according to WalletHub.

That's 2.6 million people heading to airports across the United States, just as the head of security at the Transportation Security Administration has been ousted, and both airlines and airports are scrambling to remedy long security lines.

So if you are one of the millions leaving home for a long weekend getaway, here's what to expect this weekend.

If you haven't already signed up for TSA PreCheck, which can make airport security significantly less painful, it's too late to help you this weekend.

If you don't have PreCheck, but will be traveling through an airport that has the CLEAR program — like Denver International, Orlando, San Francisco and others — you still have the opportunity to get through security faster, although it will cost you $179. (Worth it if you'll be heading to participating airports frequently this summer.)

Leave yesterday. Camp out in the airport parking lot. Show up two days before your friends are expecting you. Head to the beach at 3 a.m.

In all seriousness, make sure you give yourself plenty of time. The long weekend will be anything but relaxing if — in addition to waiting in line — you're also worried about missing flights, trains or events.

The Transportation Security Administration is advising travelers to arrive two hours before their flight is scheduled to depart, however it's better to check with your specific airport: For example, O'Hare is advising travelers to arrive three hours early.

For those driving to their destination, low gas prices will be easy on your wallet but maybe not on your drive time. Check Google Maps for traffic patterns on your route at the approximate day and time you'll be driving, and plan accordingly.

The weather looks promising for many parts of the country, but as usual, there are some trouble spots where storms will be brewing. From Friday through Monday, thunderstorms, some of them severe with strong winds, large hail and tornadoes, will fire up from Texas northward to Minnesota, with some shower activity arcing eastward into Michigan. This means that some major hub airports, such as Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport and Minneapolis-St. Paul could see weather-related delays. 

The other main weather issue will be found along the Southeast coast, possibly extending northward toward Virginia and Washington, D.C. A low pressure area is taking shape off the Southeast coast and may even turn into a subtropical or tropical storm during the weekend. 

Regardless of its development, it's likely to spread showers and thunderstorms from Florida to North Carolina, affecting vacationers heading to area beaches for the first time this summer. 

If you haven't made travel plans yet, but the above warnings about the dire state of transit in America this weekend is tempting you, Hipmunk has a new feature called "Hello" that the company is touting for last-minute travel recommendations.

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