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Roadways are undeniably busier during certain times of year. The holiday season might be the first period people think of when imagining crowded roadways, but three-day weekends and popular standalone holidays like the Fourth of July and Labor Day also have a tendency to compel people to get behind the wheel so they can celebrate.

The American Automobile Association reports that the Friday before Labor Day was the fifth worst travel day in the United States in 2021. AAA determined its worst travel days by examining data about overcrowded airports and flight delays and also by looking at how much vehicle traffic was on the nation’s highways.

Labor Day weekend is often characterized as the unofficial end of summer, so it should come as no surprise that the travel data company Arrivalist reports that 43 million people traveled on Labor Day weekend in 2021. The excitement surrounding a weekend getaway or road trip vacation can quickly evaporate when drivers find themselves sitting in traffic. These strategies can help drivers avoid such misfortune.

  • Go against the grain. One of the reason popular travel weekends like Memorial Day and Labor Day tend to be plagued with so much traffic is that everyone is heading to the beach. That means everyone is going in the same direction. Drivers can avoid hours spent sitting on the road by going against the grain and heading to a less popular destination. If everyone in your area tends to head south to the beach, consider a trip north to a nearby campsite instead.
  • Use a GPS or maps app. Veteran travelers may have traversed the same roadways to reach popular weekend getaway destinations for decades, but as the old saying goes, “familiarity breeds contempt.” Sticking to the same route could land weekend travelers in the same traffic jams they’ve been sitting in for years. Modern GPS devices and maps apps allow users to pick the fastest route to their destination, which isn’t always the one drivers know best. Taking the recommended route as opposed to the most familiar one could help drivers spend less time in traffic and more time having fun.
  • Start early (or late). If the majority of weekend getaway travelers tend to head in the same direction, they also tend to leave about the same time. Starting early by departing a day in advance of a busy travel weekend or in the early morning hours can help drivers avoid traffic. Patient travelers also can leave after the evening rush, which ends about 7 p.m. in most cities.

A certain amount of traffic is unavoidable on busy travel weekends, but these strategies can help drivers avoid the bummer of bumper-to-bumper traffic this Labor Day weekend.

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