Traveling this Labor Day weekend? Whether flying or driving, here’s what to expect

Summer is coming to a close, meaning millions of Americans will hit the roads and take to the sky for Labor Day weekend.

And most people who are traveling will be driving, with more than 80% of people taking their car as opposed to a plane.

AAA predicts this to be the busiest Labor Day travel weekend in three years, reaching pre-pandemic levels. Trends are similar to the busy Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends this year. And whether you are driving or flying, travel experts advise leaving early in the morning or late at night.

Top domestic destinations

  1. Seattle, Wash.
  2. Orlando, Fla.
  3. Las Vegas, Nev.
  4. Denver, Colo.
  5. Boston, Mass.
  6. Anchorage, Alaska
  7. New York, Nev.
  8. Anaheim, Calif.
  9. Honolulu, Hawaii
  10. Chicago, Ill.

"AAA anticipates that Friday, Sept. 2, will be the busiest travel day of the holiday weekend, as we see travelers mixed with commuters on Friday afternoon trying to get down to the shore," said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Jana Tidwell. "Trying to get to the beaches during those peak commute times is not going to be fun. It's not going to be easy."

Leaving at off-peak times will not only save time but money by cutting down on the gas you will burn sitting in traffic.

Gas prices have dropped since reaching the $5-a-gallon highs seen in June. Right now, $3.82 is the national average.

With high temperatures forecasted, too, you will not want to deal with any car troubles on the side of the road in the heat. Be sure to check your battery before a road trip.

AAA said their top calls received are for dead batteries and flat tires.

"The heat has a cumulative effect on car batteries, especially. And we're at five heat waves at this point in the season," Tidwell said. 

AAA anticipates more than 545,000 breakdowns nationwide for the Labor Day holiday based on last year’s data.

Being stranded on the road can be dangerous for drivers, their passengers, and those who come to help them. On average, a tow truck driver is killed every two weeks somewhere in the U.S. while helping a broken-down motorist, according to AAA.

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Just like your luggage, all major airports will be packed

For those taking to the skies this weekend, catching the first flight of the day to avoid delays and using carry-ons to avoid lost luggage is highly reccomended. International flyers should make sure their passport hasn’t expired.

All major airports will be packed, AAA expects, with domestic bookings up 22% and international reservations up 104%  compared to last year.

Top international destinations

  1. Vancouver, Canada
  2. London, England
  3. Dublin, Ireland
  4. Rome, Italy
  5. Paris, France
  6. Athens, Greece
  7. Barcelona, Spain
  8. Calgary, Canada
  9. Budapest, Hungary
  10. Amsterdam, Netherlands

"We expect to see about 1.6 million travelers coming in, out of or through (Atlanta's) Hartsfield-Jackson (airport) from Thursday until the Tuesday after the holiday," said Andrew Gobeil, communications director at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. "That's a little bit more than we projected last year; 1.3 million passengers at the same time. It looks as if travel is returning, as if you need me to tell you that, and things are picking up."

Flyers should have the app for their airline on their phone so they can be notified of any delays or cancellations. 

The top domestic destinations for the holiday are Seattle, Orlando and Las Vegas. Overseas travelers are heading to Italy, Canada and Ireland, according to data by AAA.