Labor Day Weekend Travel: Prepare for a lot of company, especially internationally

Editor’s Note: The Monthly Pass is a CNN Travel series that highlights some of the travel world’s hottest topics. This August, we’ll be making the most of the last month of summer by highlighting some of the best ways to enjoy the season.


Travel experts warn that the 2023 travel frenzy will not abate during the upcoming Labor Day weekend in the United States.

“Summer travel has been hot all season with travel picking up around Memorial Day and 4th of July. Expect the same on Labor Day,” online travel advice site vacationer I mentioned this week.

“Travelers heading out of town over the long weekend should expect crowded airports and long lines,” travel app Hopper he said in a press release.

AAA, the auto and tour planning group, said in a press release this week that travel on Labor Day weekend will be up 4% year-over-year domestically, according to booking data.

This is notable, but it’s the increase in international bookings for Labor Day weekend that blows your mind. These bookings are up 44% through 2022.

Labor Day falls on Monday, September 4 this year and is celebrated in Canada as well. The weekend usually marks the end of the summer travel season, which is set to go out with a bang in 2023. Here’s what you need to know and tips for last-minute Labor Day travelers:

Cars drive past the Eiffel Tower in Paris on August 16, 2023. (Photo by Miguel Medina/AFP) (Photo by Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images)

Chris Cave, CEO of FlightHub Group (the parent company of the online travel website), said international travel has “increased dramatically” compared to last year as COVID-19 restrictions eased around the world. And, in a press release.

“Europe has seen a surge in travel throughout the year, with more people keen to see the world again without restrictions,” AAA said in its press release.

AAA said that even with wildfires threatening some areas, Canada is very popular this time of year “because of the cool temperatures and beautiful scenery”.

It also indicated that international cruise bookings increased by 44% compared to last year and that international hotel bookings for the holiday increased by 82% compared to 2022.

AAA said its findings show the top five international destinations over Labor Day weekend are Vancouver, Rome, London, Dublin and Paris.

Hooper said the top three international destinations booked for Labor Day weekend outside of his location are San Juan, Toronto and Cancun.

FlightHub, which splits its categories between North America and Rest of the World, said the top five most booked international destinations on its site were the Philippines, Italy, Portugal, Greece and Turkey. In Canada, the highest bookings are for Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

Hallie Berg, chief economist at Hooper, told CNN Travel on Tuesday that she spotted some last-minute round-trip deals to Europe for Labor Day weekend. They include:

• New York City to Dublin for as low as $506
• Boston to Copenhagen for as low as $581
• Chicago to Paris as low as $626

But in general, Berg suggests holding back a bit.

“Travelers considering an end-of-summer break to Europe should look beyond the Labor Day weekend in September and October,” Berg said. “Prices will drop by 25% for trips in the early fall months compared to peak summer prices.”

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 28: Visitors walk on a pedestrian bridge between the MGM Resorts International New York-New York Hotel & Casino properties and the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on August 28-October 28, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  MGM Resorts International will lay off 18,000 employees in the United States on Monday as the resort industry struggles to recover from the pandemic.  The move was necessary because federal law requires companies to lay off furloughed workers after six months.  Before the hotels and casinos closed in March, the company had 68,000 employees nationwide, including 52,000 in Las Vegas.  MGM Resorts said laid-off employees could be brought back as business demand returns.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

What happens in Vegas will happen to a lot of people this coming holiday.

The top five domestic destinations, according to AAA, are Seattle, Orlando, Anchorage, New York and Las Vegas. Hopper’s three largest domestic cities are Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Denver. For FlightHub, it’s Vegas (again) and Orlando.

AAA also said data shows domestic cruise bookings over Labor Day weekend were up 19% compared to 2022, helping make Florida a popular and busy destination.

Lots of people will also hit the road.

“Most travelers will leave on a Thursday or Friday to take advantage of the long weekend,” said Paula Twidal, Senior Vice President, AAA Travel.

On their release AAA made some road predictions from enrixA global provider of transportation data and insights.

INRIX said Thursday, August 31, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. should be the busiest time on the road (although that may vary by city). INRIX also said that higher-than-normal traffic is also expected on Friday, September 1 between the hours of 11am and 9pm.

“The best times to travel by car over Labor Day weekend are in the early morning or evening,” said Bob Bicheaux, transportation analyst at INRIX. “If you have to travel during heavy traffic, navigation apps and local transportation departments can help guide drivers around long delays.”

Gas station signs display prices in Bethesda, Maryland on August 6, 2023. The average price per gallon of regular gasoline set by the American Automobile Association is $3,829, up from $3,331 on January 2, 2023. This increase may have an impact on the latest consumer prices. .  Index, due out August 10.  (Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP) (Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

AAA had some neutral to decent news regarding gas prices, which should be about the same as last year.

“The national average for a regular gallon was $3.78 on Labor Day 2022. This summer, gas prices rose in July due to tight supply and the high cost of oil,” AAA said in its statement. “August has brought some relief and, barring a major storm in the Gulf of Mexico, prices are expected to remain flat – or even fall – as Labor Day approaches.”

In terms of car rental rates, Huber said average car rental rates are $41 per day, down 14.5% from this time last year.

It is possible that there will be some reasonably priced home worms left for you for late birds.

“While I recommend booking holiday cruises several months in advance, it’s never too late to find a good deal for Labor Day cruises this year,” Phil Dengler, co-founder of The Vacationer, told CNN Travel.

Here are some of his top tips:

Be flexible with travel dates: The Thursday and Friday before Labor Day and Labor Day itself are usually the busiest and most expensive days for flying. Dengler suggested travelers look for flights earlier in the week, such as Tuesday and Wednesday. For returns after Labor Day, Dengler likes Wednesday, Thursday, or Saturday.

Be flexible with your destination: If you’re not restricted to a specific location, Dengler said use Google Flights Explore feature To find cheap flights from your home airport or nearby airports. On Tuesday, he found a round trip from Philadelphia to Miami or Orlando from Tuesday, August 29 to Wednesday, September 6 for only $78 round trip.

Book morning flights directly with the airline: Book directly with the airline to put yourself in the best position in case you need to change your flight due to cancellations or major delays. Additionally, choose early morning flights as they tend to be cheaper and less prone to interruptions.

Hopper’s Berg said you should sign up to get delay and cancellation alerts.

She also said, “If you haven’t booked yet, make sure to set aside a buffer day.” “Especially on weekends, it’s always a good idea to add an extra day or two into your travel plans, to ensure you’re able to get to your destination on time with some wiggle room.”

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