Travelers Mark Unofficial End of Summer over Labor Day Weekend

Staff Report

Wednesday, August 30th, 2023

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 Price Average Expectations

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 month of August has brought some relief and, barring a major storm in the Gulf of Mexico, prices should remain steady – or even go down – heading into Labor Day weekend.

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.”

Best and Worst Times to Travel by Car


Worst Travel Time

Best Travel Time

Wednesday, Aug 30

12:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Before 7:00 AM

Thursday, Aug 31

12:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Before 7:00 AM

Friday, Sep 1

11:00 AM - 9:00 PM

Before 11:00 AM

Saturday, Sep 2

10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

After 6:00 PM

Sunday, Sep 3

Minimal Traffic Impact Expected

Monday, Sep 4

10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

After 7:00 PM



Peak Congestion Period

Est. Travel Time

Compared to Typical


Birmingham to Atlanta via I-20 E

Wednesday, 1:00 PM

4 Hours 6 Minutes



Boston to Hyannis via Pilgrim Hwy S

Thursday, 3:30 PM

1 Hours 58 Minutes



Milwaukee to Chicago via I-94 E

Thursday, 4:45 PM

2 Hours 32 Minutes



Palisade to Denver via I-70 E

Monday, 4:00 PM

4 Hours, 58 Minutes



Detroit to Grand Rapids via I-96 W

Saturday, 10:15 AM

3 Hours 7 Minutes



Galveston to Houston via I-45 N

Friday, 4:45 PM

1 Hours 37 Minutes


Los Angeles

Los Angeles to Bakersfield via I-5 N

Wednesday, 4:30 PM

2 Hours 58 Minutes



Minneapolis to Eau Claire via I-94 E

Wednesday, 4:45 PM

1 Hours 39 Minutes


New York

Jersey Shore to New York via Garden St Pkwy N

Monday, 11:15 AM

1 Hours 46 Minutes



Cannon Beach to Portland via Sunset Highway E

Wednesday, 1:00 PM

1 Hours 38 Minutes


San Diego

Palm Springs to San Diego via I-15 S

Monday, 4:45 PM

2 Hours 44 Minutes


San Francisco

San Francisco to Monterey via Santa Cruz Hwy S

Sunday, 4:00 PM

3 Hours 11 Minutes



Seattle to Bellingham via I-5 N

Thursday, 3:30 PM

2 Hours 34 Minutes



Tampa to Orlando via I-4 E

Thursday, 8:15 AM

1 Hours 54 Minutes


Washington DC

Washington DC to Baltimore via Balt/Wash Pkwy N

Friday, 1:45 PM

1 Hours 9 Minutes


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.