The Best And The Worst Times To Drive And Travel During Labor Day Weekend

Summer is going by quickly, and Labor Day is right around the corner. Maybe you already have plans in store, or maybe you're planning a last minute Labor Day trip. A barbeque, a beach day, an afternoon in the park, all of these ventures are popular Labor Day outings you might have the opportunity to partake in, be it with family or friends. One of the main challenges with these ventures, however, is the crowd — and we don't just mean at the location. Driving to the destination can be a headache as you navigate the weekend's traffic.

Planning your trip ahead of time can save you some of the stress that comes with traveling on holiday weekends. When you're finalizing plans, don't forget to factor in your driving time. Figuring out which time of day to drive plays a key role when it comes to determining whether or not you'll be stuck in traffic or flying down the freeway.

When to hit the road

If you're looking to avoid traffic almost entirely, your best bet is leaving in the morning on the weekend. Otherwise, you're more likely to run into congestion. "Thursday and Friday are the toughest days, for sure, as you're heading out of town," INRIX analyst Bob Pishue told USA Today.

If you're determined to arrive before Saturday, you can still avoid traffic, you just have to be particular about the times you go. On Thursdays, it's best to travel at night — after 9 p.m. to be specific. The times you absolutely want to avoid leaving between are 1 p.m. through 9 p.m. For Friday, you're better off leaving in the morning, before 10 a.m. Avoid heading out between noon and 8:30 p.m.

If you're okay with waiting for Saturday (or even Sunday) to head out, it's once again best to leave in the morning, before 10 a.m. Leaving after noon or before 5 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday will likely get you stuck in traffic. As for the drive back, leaving before 11 a.m. on Monday can save you a headache. Leaving late (after 9 p.m.) on Tuesday will likely spare you from traffic delays.

Driving cautiously

When you're ready to hit the road, make sure you're completely packed and that you won't have anything to distract you (i.e. eating, texting, etc.). As fun as Labor Day Weekend can be, it can also be a very dangerous time to be on the road. With so many people traveling, more accidents happen. That means it's extremely important to drive cautiously and defensively. While you drive, wear your seatbelt and keep a good distance from the car ahead of you. If you drink, stay away from the wheel entirely. Prioritize your and your passengers' safety on your trip — both going and returning.

For those wanting to avoid the roads altogether and fly instead, know it's going to be a busy time at the airport. Labor Day Weekend has some of the worst days of the year to fly. You can expect full flights and longer wait lines — it might be time to get TSA Pre-Check. The busiest day for flying is the Friday before Labor Day, so keep that in mind when you're booking your tickets.