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%.
“Most travelers will leave on Thursday or Friday before Labor Day to take advantage of the long holiday weekend,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “Domestically, the Pacific Northwest, big cities like New York and Denver, and tourist hotspots like Orlando and Las Vegas are the most popular. Internationally, it’s all about Europe and Canada.”
AAA booking data shows Vancouver, Rome, London, Dublin and Paris are the top five 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 five 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.
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 beginning of August brought some relief, but as hurricane season heats up, so do concerns about higher gas prices heading into Labor Day weekend.
INRIX, a global provider of transportation data and insights, expects Thursday, Aug. 31 between 2 p.m. 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.
“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.”