Labor Day Travel Expected to be UP over Last Year; Best and Worst Times to Travel by Car

AAA expects Labor Day weekend travel to be busier this year than in 2022, on the road, in the air and for those who are cruising as well.

As usual, most Labor Day travelers will drive to their holiday destinations, closing out the summer with one more Great American Road Trip. Gas prices, which have been on the rise since mid-July, are not expected to deter those who want to get away. Despite the recent price fluctuations, the price at the pump is actually still cheaper than it was over the holiday weekend last year.

It’s not just roads that will be busy. According to AAA booking data, flights, hotels, rental cars, and cruises are all up over 2022.

“Whether you are hitting the road, headed to the airport or getting ready to set to sail over the holiday weekend, travelers should expect a lot of company and plan accordingly,” says Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Club Alliance. “Drivers, in particular, should ensure their vehicles are road ready, especially given the toll summer heat can take on batteries and tires.”

Last year, AAA responded to over 8,000 Emergency Roadside Service calls in New Jersey over the Labor Day weekend, and almost half those calls required a tow. Rescue crews are gearing up for what is anticipated to be an even busier weekend this year.

Best and Worst Times to Travel by Car

INRIX, a global provider of transportation data and insights, expects Thursday, Aug. 31, between 2 and 6 p.m. to be the busiest time on the roads during the long Labor Day weekend. Friday, Sept. 1, is also expected to have higher than normal traffic volumes between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.

“Drivers who have flexibility in planning are encouraged to travel at off-peak hours – before 7 a.m. or after 8 p.m.,” Noble adds.

Labor Day Weekend Flights

According to AAA Travel, bookings to domestic destinations over the holiday weekend are up 4%, and international bookings are up 44%.

Seattle, Orlando, Anchorage, New York, and Las Vegas rank as the Top 5 domestic destinations. Seattle tourism has received a boost related to strong demand for Alaskan cruises. Florida destinations are popular not only for their beaches and theme parks but also for their cruise ports in Central Florida, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and Miami. AAA data shows domestic cruise bookings over Labor Day weekend are up 19% compared to 2022.

Vancouver, Rome, London, Dublin, and Paris mark the Top 5 international destinations over Labor Day weekend. Canada is popular this time of year because of its cooler temperatures and stunning scenery. Europe has seen a surge in travel all year, with more people eager to see the world again without restrictions.

International hotel bookings for the holiday are up 82% compared to 2022, and international cruise bookings are up 44% over last year.

AAA encourages anyone flying over the holiday weekend to check airline schedules for delays or cancellations before leaving for the airport. Travelers are encouraged to arrive at the airport at least two hours before any domestic travel and three hours early for international travel.

Slow Down Move Over

AAA reminds all drivers to ‘Slow Down and Move Over’ for first responders working at the roadside over the holiday weekend. The Move Over law requires motorists to slow down and, when possible, to change lanes, moving away from police, fire and emergency personnel on the roadside, including tow drivers.

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