August 21, 2023

These are the Best and Worst Times to Drive on Labor Day Weekend

If you’re planning to take a trip for Labor Day, prepare yourself for bigger crowds than last year.

AAA booking data shows that travel is up for the holiday weekend compared to 2022, the membership organization said Monday. Domestic bookings for flights, hotels, rental cars and cruises are up 4%, while international bookings are 44% higher.

“Most travelers will leave on Thursday or Friday to take advantage of the long holiday weekend,” Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel, said in a news release. In the U.S., the Pacific Northwest and tourist destinations like New York and Orlando will see an influx of visitors, while Europe and Canada are top of mind for international trips, she added.

What are the most popular destinations for Labor Day?

Seattle, Orlando, Anchorage, New York and Las Vegas are the top five U.S. destinations this year, according to AAA.

“Seattle tourism has been boosted by the strong demand for Alaska cruises,” the organization said in the release. “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.”

Domestic cruise bookings over the holiday weekend are 19% higher than 2022, according to AAA data.

Vancouver, Rome, London, Dublin and Paris are seeing the most demand among travelers heading abroad. International hotel bookings are up 82% from last year, and 44% higher for cruises, AAA said.

What is the best time to drive over Labor Day weekend?

Road trippers can expect the most traffic on Thursday, Aug. 31 between mid-afternoon and early evening. Friday, Sept. 1, will also see more congestion than usual from late morning into the night.

“The best times to travel by car over Labor Day weekend are early in the morning or in the evening,” Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, said in the release. INRIX works with AAA on holiday travel projections.

Sunday, Sept. 3, is likely to see minimal traffic impacts, however.

➤ These are the best times to drive on the other days:

• Wednesday, Aug. 30: Before 7 a.m.
• Thursday, Aug. 31: Before 7 a.m.
• Friday, Sept. 1: Before 11 a.m.
• Saturday, Sept. 2: After 6 p.m.
• Monday, Sept. 4: After 7 p.m.

➤ These are the worst times to drive:

• Wednesday, Aug. 30: Between noon and 8 p.m.
• Thursday, Aug. 31: Between noon and 8 p.m.
• Friday, Sept. 1: Between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.
• Saturday, Sept. 2: Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• Monday, Sept. 4: Between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

“If you must travel during heavy traffic, navigation apps and local departments of transportation can help steer drivers around long delays,” Pishue said.

Copyright 2023 USA TODAY. All rights reserved. From By Nathan Diller.

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