20
August
2023
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17:00 PM
America/Chicago

Travelers Mark Unofficial End of Summer over Labor Day Weekend

AAA booking data shows international trips, cruises, and cooler weather destinations are most popular

AAA does not conduct a formal holiday travel forecast for the Labor Day weekend (forecasting the millions of travelers planning a trip). However, below is an overview of various travel trends and safety messaging for the holiday weekend. Our next holiday travel forecast will be for Thanksgiving.

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B-Roll: Vehicle Maintenance / Tow Truck Drivers on the Roadside

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 Prices Surge to New 2023 Highs

Labor Day gas prices could be more expensive than last year. On Sunday, the state average price for gasoline was $3.82 per gallon. Last year, drivers paid $3.52 per gallon on Labor Day.

Gas prices spiked this summer because of tight supply and the high cost of oil. Last Thursday, Florida gas prices set a new 2023 high of $3.85 per gallon.

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."

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 Mark Jenkins, spokesman, 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:

Florida state law requires drivers to slow down and move over for first responders and emergency workers on the roadside. That includes tow truck drivers. Florida lawmakers also just passed a law requiring drivers to move over for disabled vehicles with their hazard lights on. Although that law doesn't go into effect until January, AAA urges drivers to begin following the law now.

"AAA's roadside technicians will put their lives on the line to rescue hundreds of thousands of drivers during Labor Day weekend," continued Jenkins. "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.

Survey Methodology

AAA sent surveys to a random sample of AAA travel advisors between July 12 and July 26, 2023. 165 AAA travel advisors responded.

About INRIX

Founded in 2004, INRIX pioneered intelligent mobility solutions by transforming big data from connected devices and vehicles into mobility insights. This revolutionary approach enabled INRIX to become one of the leading providers of data and analytics into how people move. By empowering cities, businesses, and people with valuable insights, INRIX is helping to make the world smarter, safer, and greener. With partners and solutions spanning across the entire mobility ecosystem, INRIX is uniquely positioned at the intersection of technology and transportation – whether it's keeping road users safe, improving traffic signal timing to reduce delay and greenhouse gasses, optimizing last mile delivery, or helping uncover market insights. Learn more at INRIX.com.

About AAA - The Auto Club Group

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 13 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 62 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA's mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.