The price for gas is expected to be lower this Labor Day weekend than the same time last year and, in turn, more drivers are expected to be on the road. AAA has projected that 34 million people will travel at least 50 miles this holiday weekend, a post-recession high. And most of those travelers will be driving: an estimated 29.2 million travelers will take to the highways this weekend.
You aren’t doomed to sit in traffic. Here are 10 things you can to do avoid the Labor Day gridlock:
- Getting to your destination can be part of the fun so take public transportation if possible. You can check out the Amtrak website for regional deals on train rides any time of year. If you’re staying local, look for congestion-reducing deals on city bus and subways: Houston, for example, is offering free public transportation this Labor Day.
- If you have to drive, try to avoid doing so in the daytime. The hours between 4 pm and 10 pm are the worst possible times to get on the road. Leaving in the early morning or late night is ideal.
- Avoid Friday and Monday if possible. These are proven to be the worst days to travel on Labor Day weekend.
- Stay out an extra day. Leaving on Thursday or coming back on a Tuesday can lessen the amount of traffic you will be sitting in. Chances are you will hit the same weekday morning or evening traffic but it’ll be better than sitting in your car for hours on end Monday night.
- Arm yourself with real-time traffic and route information. Google maps and other apps offer current traffic information. Download apps like Sigalert, Waze, and INRIX Traffic for real-time data.
- Take the road less-traveled. Taking an alternate route or going the long way may pay off. You’ll probably be driving more miles, but you’ll find emptier roads.
- Know when to take a break. If you find yourself in bumper to bumper traffic, toughing it out isn’t always the best or the most pleasant option. Check your live-time feed. Sometime you can pull off the road to grab a bite or see the sights and come an hour or two later to significantly less traffic.
- Don’t be the person that worsens the traffic. Traffic gets worse with accidents and stalled vehicles. Having your car breakdown on a busy road on a busy weekend can be a disaster. Make sure to inspect your vehicle and run any necessary maintenance you’ve been putting off before getting on the road.
- Get creative when planning your trip. Vegas might sound like a great place to go for Labor Day Weekend, but thousands of people are thinking just like you. Heading into popular destinations might take up a lot of time of your holiday weekend. Going to a less popular location (eg. skip the beach for the desert) will also save you money on hotel rooms and gas.
- Consider a Staycation. The traffic gets really unbearable when you’re on the road for hours. Within 50 miles of home, you’re bound to find a surprise or two if you look closely. Our archive of one-tank trips from cities across the country should get you started.
Don’t miss the Labor Day 2014 Forecast: More Travelers, Bigger Deals.
By Judith Retana for PeterGreenberg.com