If you’re planning on taking a road trip this Labor Day weekend, you’ll be in good company. According to AAA Travel, 34.7 million people are expected to drive 50 miles—or more—this weekend. About 86 percent of Americans will be taking one final road trip before school is back in session. Whether you’re planning on driving or flying, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a closer look at the travel forecast for Labor Day weekend, as well as where to find the best deals, get the best hotel rates, and how to save on airfare.
According to the annual AAA travel report, the approaching Labor Day Weekend will see the most travelers since the recession-driven travel decline. They estimate that nearly 35 million Americans will be skipping town between Thursday, August 28 and Monday, September 1.
AAA CEO Marshall L. Doney explains this rise in travel:
“With Labor Day symbolizing the American workers’ contributions to the strength and prosperity of our country, it’s only fitting that millions are choosing to celebrate this positive direction [in lower unemployment] with an all-American road trip.”
So, road trip we will. Automobile travel remains the most popular form of transportation for Labor Day Weekend, with a staggering 29.7 million travelers expected to hit the road this year.
But, don’t get discouraged. Even procrastinating travelers still have a shot at a great deal.
While airfare prices will increase by 2 percent to accommodate the 1 percent increase in air travel this season, there is some good news. Travelers won’t see a rise in fares for rental cars, and gas prices should be lower than usual, despite the fact that automobile travel will increase by 1.4 percent this year.
According to a study by Hopper, Labor Day weekend prices are down about 4 percent. This is particularly surprising, considering summer travel fares were more expensive this year than they were last year.
You can still get some good deals this Labor Day weekend, but if you’re able to travel on another weekend, you will definitely get more bang for your buck. Those who are free after Labor Day Weekend could save between 20 to 40 percent in cities like Dallas, Seattle, Orlando, and New Orleans.
For those who have less leeway with travel dates, don’t fret; we have some more good news for you, too.
Most Popular Destinations
First, let’s discuss where you ought not to go this Labor Day Weekend.
Washington D.C. and Washington State
According to Travelocity, both Washingtons—D.C. and state, specifically Seattle—are hot spots for Labor Day travel this year.
New York City and San Francisco
New York City and San Francisco are also hot spots with steep airfare prices and hotel rates. Average round trip airfare to New York is expected to cost about $323.97, while nightly hotel rates could average about $267.15. For San Francisco, round trip airfare averages at $342.50, and hotels could cost around $213.81.
Atlanta and Athens, Georgia
Be careful in Georgia this year. Due to the football games taking place over Labor Day weekend, hotel prices in both Atlanta and Athens have shot up considerably.
Chicago, Las Vegas, and Denver
For those looking to travel by air, Hopper reports that Chicago, Las Vegas, and Denver will be this weekend’s busiest airports.
Where to Get the Best Deals
Now, for the good stuff: our travel suggestions. If you can, leave on Saturday and return on Wednesday: it could save you about 15 percent. The wild cards this year are Orlando, Vail, and Canada.
Travelocity and Kayak both suggest Orlando is this year’s best bet. While this may be a popular destination for the Fourth of July, prices have dropped this Labor Day weekend. Kayak lists Orlando as one of the cheapest cities for hotels this weekend with an average nightly price of $115.
Travelocity suggests ski resorts such as those in Vail. “High-end resort towns like Vail offer luxurious accommodations and amenities for about one-third of what you would pay during peak ski season,” said Courtney Scott, senior editor at Travelocity.
Toronto and Vancouver are great choices for this holiday weekend. Toronto hotels are down 17 percent to $175 a night, while Vancouver rates are down 3 percent to $215. Vancouver airfares are also down an incredible 30 percent, with average airfare at $438.
Getting the Best Hotel Rates
While Denver and Washington, D.C. may be hot spots this year, hotel rates in both cities are still reasonable. According to a study by Kayak, Denver hotel rates should cost about $151 per night this weekend, and hotels in Washington, D.C. will average about $131 per night.
Houston is a popular choice this weekend, but hotel rooms are expected to average about $147 per night.
Some of the least crowded destinations this Labor Day are in—and outside—the country. Vancouver is seeing a 3 percent decrease in hotel rates, and the average cost for a night is $215. At about $252, you can find a room in Paris cheaper than the surrounding previous and following weekends. Dallas hotels should average about $144 per night, and Fort Lauderdale hotels should cost about $158.
Get the Best Flights by Staying Local
Hopper advises staying close to home for the best flight deal. It has compiled a handy list of average Labor Day weekend airport prices from the country’s most popular airports. The site suggests:
From New York, go for Boston, Syracuse, or Rochester.
From Boston, try Philadelphia, Newark, or Atlantic City.
From Atlanta, try Trenton, Jacksonville, or Houston.
From Chicago, try Minneapolis, Kansas City, or Louisville.
From Dallas, go for Kansas City, Houston, or San Antonio.
From Denver, try Phoenix, Oklahoma City, or Dallas.
From Los Angeles, try San Francisco, San Jose, or Las Vegas.
For more ways to save when you travel, check out:
- The Best Time to Book Flights, Airline by Airline
- Escape the City This Summer With These Affordable Road Trips
- 6 Offbeat Destinations to See This Summer
- The Best Places to Visit Using Your Tax Refund
By Brittany Malooly with Jessica May Tang for PeterGreenberg.com