A record high number of Americans are expected to hit the roads this Labor Day weekend. Here's how to avoid them.

Labor Day Weekend marks the unofficial end of summer and the start of fall, which is why so many people pack their bags and skip town for a few days. To them, it's the last chance they'll ever get to soak in the last rays of summer.

Heavy Traffic, Crowds Signal Start Of Labor Day Weekend
Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

People look at Labor Day as the final weekend to enjoy a long vacation, which is why travel tends to set new record highs year after year.

2023 will be no different. Scores of people are expected to hit up cruises, international trips and places that offer cooler temperatures this weekend, which means the roads will be pure chaos.

Travel is way up from 2022

It's estimated that nearly 100 million Americans are traveling this year alone, which is way more compared to last year's numbers.

Although, here in Central NY we tend to get a break from bumper-to-bumper commutes, that's likely to change this weekend as New Yorkers left and right will descend upon or pass through our region.

Meaning we will be tapping our brakes a lot more than usual this weekend.


According to AAA, the absolute worst place to travel throughout New York will be the Garden State Parkway around the Big Apple and Jersey City.

The times to avoid the area will actually be during the commute back home, with the worst traffic predicted to hit around 11:15 Monday morning. That will actually be the worst place across the continental U.S. to drive at that time, so beware.

Read More: Americans Say New York Drivers Among Worst in Nation

But, if you're planning on heading elsewhere, these are the times you should avoid getting behind the wheel.

Wednesday and Thursday will have more cars on the road between noon and 8 p.m ET. It should be noted that AAA predicts Thursday will actually be the worst travel day of all.

Friday's window to avoid the highways stretches between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET.

Saturday's worst times are set between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET, while Monday will be more difficult between the hours of 10 in the morning and 6 at night.

Sunday is anticipated to have minimal traffic impact, which is nice to know.

The Best Times to Travel

For those hoping to encounter the least amount of traffic on the roads this holiday weekend, your best bet is in the early morning hours.

Read More: Central NY Town Named Best for Spas + Wellness, Here's Why

For example, the best time to leave if you're heading off on either Wednesday or Thursday will be before 7 in the morning. Friday, it's best you head off before lunchtime.

Nightly City Traffic
Getty Images/iStockphoto

As for Monday, you should anticipate leaving a lot later than normal if you want smooth sailing. AAA says the best time to head on the road will be after 7 that evening.

Where Are People Going This Year?

According to AAA, bookings to fly out of the country are on the rise. The top 5 destinations Americans are hitting up are: Vancouver, Rome, London, Dublin and Paris.

Read More: New York Under Alert for Unusual New COVID-19 Strain

That said, international hotel bookings have jumped by 82 percent since last year.

Cruises are also soaring in popularity, with bookings up 44 percent higher than 2022.

But not everyone can afford to get away from the U.S.A. on Labor Day - so the top five domestic locations are poised to be Orlando, Seattle, Anchorage, Las Vegas and, surprisingly, New York City.

AAA also had some suggestions of its own for those who haven't yet decided where to escape:

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That said, domestic cruises have also soared over the past year, with bookings over the Labor Day holiday up 19% compared to this time last year.

A Warning from Travel Experts

The National Safety Council predicts there will be 455 unnecessary deaths due to preventable traffic crashes during the Labor Day holiday. Mark Chung, executive vice president of roadway practice at NSC, had this to say:

Labor Day weekend is a time to step back from our busy lives, relax and enjoy being with our loved ones, if we're so fortunate. But that can too easily be stripped away. Preventable roadway crashes are still at exceedingly high levels, and every fatality statistic represents a lost family member, friend, loved one, colleague and community member. As a country, we must work together to collectively change behaviors and invest in infrastructure that promotes safe travel to save lives.

Avoiding high travel times greatly reduces the risk of a preventable accident.

The U.S. Department of Transportation also recommends slowing down, wearing a seatbelt, keeping an eye out for motorcyclists or bicyclists, staying distraction-free from electronic devices and not to drive under the influence.

Read More: Car Hydroplanes, Sends 1 to Hospital in Central NY

Other means to increase your safety is to ensure your vehicle is safe for driving and up to code, have a plan in case alternate transportation is needed, and look to ensure everyone is out of the car before locking it.

Added Chung:

Safety is a choice, and every road user must practice safe behavior each time they venture out. For example, if you're driving, slow down, look out for other road users including pedestrians and bicyclists, drive free of distraction and impairment, and wear a seat belt. Taking these actions can save a life.

For more information, visit the NSC's official website.

In all, drive save and enjoy your holiday weekend! Hope you take some fabulous pictures, eat good food, and enjoy some well-earned relaxation.

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