Washington-area residents planning to get away for the holiday weekend should plan to rise early on Friday -- very early.

More travelers on the highway and three separate rush hours on Friday will make gridlock inevitable, said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman Jon Townsend.

"The most important thing to do is plan carefully. And whatever you plan, throw the plans away, because everybody will follow that plan," he said.

Drivers should leave around 5 a.m. Friday to avoid the morning rush, or at 10 a.m. to avoid the midday rush hour, he said. If forced to leave in the evening, drivers should sit out the evening rush hour and leave around 8 p.m.

AAA expects 130,000 more drivers on area's roads for this year's holiday than were traveling last Fourth of July weekend, Townsend said.

"You can expect every exit to be jammed," he said.

Highway experts were reluctant to suggest alternative routes to the area's major highways.

"There are no alternate routes anywhere," WTOP's traffic monitor Bob Marbourg said. "As soon as you get off the obvious route, you're in the middle of somebody else's secret route. If it's on the map, if it's on a GPS, everyone else knows about it too."

Townsend said traveling on Sunday, rather than leaving Friday for the entire weekend, should mean less congestion.

As for returning to the D.C. area, Townsend recommends taking the day off work Tuesday and returning then.

The Maryland State Highway Administration will suspend any planned lane closures this weekend to give motorists more room, spokesman Charlie Gischlar said.

He advised Maryland travelers to leave at off-peak hours and visit roads.maryland.gov to get up-to-date traffic information.

The Maryland Transportation Authority predicts that about 470,000 vehicles will travel over the Bay Bridge this weekend -- a 2 percent increase over last year's holiday.

Virginia will also suspend lane closures, from Friday at noon until Tuesday at noon. Travelers can visit 511virginia.org to get traffic information, said Jennifer McCord, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

"It's gonna be heavy, we know that, so the best thing to do is plan ahead," she said.

For traffic updates ยป  Go online to roads.maryland.gov or 511virginia.org.