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Monday, May 27, 2024

AAA: Travelers Mark Unofficial End of Summer over Labor Day Weekend

A cruise ship coming down the channel in Juneau. AAA said cruise bookings have boosted travels numbers heading into Labor Day weekend. Photo by Heather Shevlin on Unsplash

VIRGINIA BEACH — With summer winding down, AAA said booking data for flights, hotels, rental cars, and cruises shows Labor Day weekend travel is up over last year.

According to the organization, domestic bookings are up 4% and international bookings are up 44%.

“Most travelers will leave on Thursday or Friday 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 said its 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, it said.

Meanwhile, the top five domestic destinations are Seattle, Orlando, Anchorage, New York, and Las Vegas. AAA said cruises played a big part in those numbers, with its data showing domestic cruise bookings over Labor Day weekend up 19% compared to 2022.

According to AAA, travelers will likely see gas prices similar to last year. Last year, the national average for a gallon of regular was $3.78 on Labor Day. While the summer saw prices spike, August has brought some relief and it said 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, Aug. 31 between 2-6 p.m. to be the busiest time on the roads during the long Labor Day weekend, AAA said. 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.”

More Travelers Interested in Travel Insurance, Extended Vacations

AAA highlighted a survey of its travel advisors it said 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.

“Post-pandemic, more travelers are recognizing the benefit of protecting their investment in case of trip interruption, whether it’s illness or a canceled flight,” said Twidale. “We’re also seeing demand for longer stays, especially now when many people have the option to work remotely from their destination.”

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