Labor Day 2014, that bittersweet holiday that marks the unofficial end of summer, is going to be one of the busiest in years.
Although AAA has yet to release its annual Labor Day holiday travel forecast, new data from Expedia hints at a very crowded and expensive summer break. According to a press release from the travel-booking site, demand for plane tickets over Labor Day weekend is up 20 percent compared to last year. Demand for hotel rooms is up 30 percent. And demand for rental cars has increased by 35 percent.
Expedia compiled its data based on Labor Day weekend bookings (for travel August 28 through September 1) for flights, hotels, and rental cars in the U.S. made between January and June. The bulk of air travelers, says Expedia, are departing August 29. Consequently, this date will be an expensive time to fly, and most planes (and overhead bins) will be quite full.
If you haven’t yet booked your air travel for the holiday, consider moving that last-minute departure to Thursday or Saturday; flights on these days will almost certainly cost considerably less than those taking off on August 29.
Expedia shares some advice for saving money on Labor Day hotel stays. The booking site’s forecast indicates that nightly rates are up 3 percent compared to last year, averaging about $180. “Book your flights and hotels as a package,” and “consider off-the-beaten track destinations,” says Expedia. A list of Labor Day destinations offering the best travel deals for the holiday weekend is included in the release: Cities where savings are prevalent include Palm Springs; Charleston; Virginia Beach; Ocean City, Maryland; Austin; New Orleans; Washington, D.C.; and Denver.
On the flipside, the most popular destinations for Labor Day travel are Las Vegas, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, San Diego, Seattle, Orange County, Los Angeles, Miami, and Houston. These are the spots where you’ll likely find fully booked hotels, crowded airports, traffic jams, and long lines. The Labor Day crush is especially heavy in Chicago and Houston, where hotel bookings are up more than 130 percent and 220 percent, respectively, compared to last year.
Haven’t booked your Labor Day getaway? Get to it! Time is running out.
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