(Media release from AAA – The Auto Club Group):
As summer winds down, many Americans are heading out of town. AAA booking data for flights, hotels, rental cars, and cruises shows Labor Day weekend travel is up over last year: domestic bookings are up 4% and international bookings are up 44%.
“Labor Day weekend will be the big sendoff to what has been an extremely busy summer travel season,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “If you haven’t booked your plans yet, you can work with a AAA travel agent to find the best combination of price and availability.”
Popular Labor Day Destinations
AAA booking data shows Vancouver, Rome, London, Dublin, and Paris are the top 5 international destinations over Labor Day weekend. International hotel bookings for the holiday are up 82% compared to 2022 and international cruise bookings are up 44% over last year. 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.
The top 5 domestic destinations are Seattle, Orlando, Anchorage, New York, and Las Vegas. Seattle tourism has been boosted by the strong demand for Alaska 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.
Gas Price Average Expectations
Drivers taking road trips this Labor Day weekend will likely see gas prices similar to last year. The national average for a gallon of regular was $3.78 on Labor Day 2022. This summer, gas prices spiked in July because of tight supply and the high cost of oil. The month of August has brought some relief and, barring a major storm in the Gulf of Mexico, prices should remain steady – or even go down – heading into Labor Day weekend.
Best and Worst Times to Travel by Car
INRIX, a global provider of transportation data and insights, expects Thursday, August 31 between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to be the busiest time on the roads during the long Labor Day weekend. Friday, September 1 is also expected to have higher than normal traffic volumes between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.
“The best times to travel by car over Labor Day weekend are early in the morning or in the evening,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “If you must travel during heavy traffic, navigation apps and local departments of transportation can help steer drivers around long delays.”
|Best and Worst Times to Travel by Car|
|Date||Worst Travel Time||Best Travel Time|
|Wednesday, Aug 30||12:00 PM – 8:00 PM||Before 7:00 AM|
|Thursday, Aug 31||12:00 PM – 8:00 PM||Before 7:00 AM|
|Friday, Sep 1||11:00 AM – 9:00 PM||Before 11:00 AM|
|Saturday, Sep 2||10:00 AM – 4:00 PM||After 6:00 PM|
|Sunday, Sep 3||Minimal Traffic Impact Expected|
|Monday, Sep 4||10:00 AM – 6:00 PM||After 7:00 PM|
|Metro||Route||Peak Congestion Period||Est. Travel Time||Compared to Typical|
|Atlanta||Birmingham to Atlanta via I-20 E||Wednesday, 1:00 PM||4 Hours 6 Minutes||58%|
|Boston||Boston to Hyannis via Pilgrim Hwy S||Thursday, 3:30 PM||1 Hours 58 Minutes||54%|
|Chicago||Milwaukee to Chicago via I-94 E||Thursday, 4:45 PM||2 Hours 32 Minutes||25%|
|Denver||Palisade to Denver via I-70 E||Monday, 4:00 PM||4 Hours, 58 Minutes||32%|
|Detroit||Detroit to Grand Rapids via I-96 W||Saturday, 10:15 AM||3 Hours 7 Minutes||35%|
|Houston||Galveston to Houston via I-45 N||Friday, 4:45 PM||1 Hours 37 Minutes||40%|
|Los Angeles||Los Angeles to Bakersfield via I-5 N||Wednesday, 4:30 PM||2 Hours 58 Minutes||88%|
|Minneapolis||Minneapolis to Eau Claire via I-94 E||Wednesday, 4:45 PM||1 Hours 39 Minutes||21%|
|New York||Jersey Shore to New York via Garden St Pkwy N||Monday, 11:15 AM||1 Hours 46 Minutes||64%|
|Portland||Cannon Beach to Portland via Sunset Highway E||Wednesday, 1:00 PM||1 Hours 38 Minutes||36%|
|San Diego||Palm Springs to San Diego via I-15 S||Monday, 4:45 PM||2 Hours 44 Minutes||29%|
|San Francisco||San Francisco to Monterey via Santa Cruz Hwy S||Sunday, 4:00 PM||3 Hours 11 Minutes||68%|
|Seattle||Seattle to Bellingham via I-5 N||Thursday, 3:30 PM||2 Hours 34 Minutes||71%|
|Tampa||Tampa to Orlando via I-4 E||Thursday, 8:15 AM||1 Hours 54 Minutes||36%|
|Washington DC||Washington DC to Baltimore via Balt/Wash Pkwy N||Friday, 1:45 PM||1 Hours 9 Minutes||33%|
More Travelers Interested in Travel Insurance, Extended Vacations
A new survey of AAA travel advisors reveals topics and trends on the minds of travelers this summer:
- 59% of AAA travel advisors have seen more interest in travel insurance over the last 60 days.
- 83% of AAA travel advisors say the most common concern from travelers over the last 60 days was getting stranded by a delayed or canceled flight.
- 64% of AAA travel advisors say travelers who booked extended vacations (at least 14 nights) said having more time to explore destinations was their main reason for taking an extended trip.
- AAA travel advisors are seeing high interest among travelers for ocean and river cruises, plus all-inclusive and guided tour vacations.
AAA Expects to Rescue 300,000 Stranded Motorists
Nationwide, AAA expects to rescue more than 300,000 stranded motorists during the Labor Day holiday weekend. The three most common reasons are flat tires, dead batteries, and lockouts. These could be avoided by having your car inspected before leaving for your destination and bringing an extra set of keys.
“The best way to avoid spending your holiday on the roadside is by getting a full vehicle inspection before your trip,” said Montrae Waiters, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “This will help ensure everything from your battery to brakes is in proper working order.”
In the event you do suffer car trouble, here are some important steps to take:
- Pull as far over on the shoulder as safely possible to create more distance between your vehicle and passing traffic.
- Turn your hazard lights on so other drivers are aware you are there.
- If you are able to safely make it to the next exit or stopping point, do so.
- Call for assistance via phone, website or the AAA Mobile app.
- Remain with your vehicle as long as it’s safe to do so.
- If getting out of your vehicle, watch the oncoming traffic for a good time to exit, and remain alert and close to your vehicle. Avoid turning your back to traffic whenever possible.
Move Over for Roadside Workers and Stranded Motorists:
Georgia’s Move Over Law requires drivers to move over one lane when possible if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the shoulder of the highway. If traffic is too heavy to move over safely, the law requires drivers to slow down below the posted speed limit instead and be prepared to stop. This law also applies to all first responders (law enforcement, fire, EMS), utility vehicles, DOT vehicles, HERO Units, and wreckers tending to an accident.
“AAA’s roadside technicians will put their lives on the line to rescue hundreds of thousands of drivers during Labor Day weekend,” continued Waiters. “We urge drivers to stay focused on the road and if you see flashing lights, move over so everyone can make it home safely.”
How Drivers Can Prevent Roadside Collisions:
- Remain alert. Avoid distractions and focus on driving.
- Constantly scan the road ahead. This will help you identify and avoid potential hazards.
- Move over a lane when approaching a vehicle on the roadside with flashing lights. If you can’t move over, slow down to safely pass them.
- Watch for people on the roadside. People may be in or near a disabled vehicle. Just because you don’t immediately see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
- Be a good passenger – Help identify roadway issues and remind the driver to slow down and move over.
AAA sent surveys to a random sample of AAA travel advisors between July 12 and July 26, 2023. 165 AAA travel advisors responded.
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