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For many Americans, the Labor Day holiday evokes thoughts of BBQ, beaches and the last hurrahs of summer. It’s always one of the busiest holiday travel periods of the year, and this year it may be even more hectic than usual.

Thanks to lower fares, Airlines for America expects 15.6 million passengers to travel from Aug. 31 to Sept. 6, an increase of 4 percent from the same holiday period last year. Lower gas prices are also inspiring many Americans to hit the road to celebrate the holiday. Of course, long lines at the airport and lots of traffic will be a given, so if you want to make the most of the last long weekend of summer, it’s best to be prepared. These tips will help.

Get Out Ahead

Expedia’s travel analytics team reports that the worst day to travel is expected to be Friday, Sept. 2. Last year, community-based navigation app Waze analyzed traffic data and found that the best time to hit the road is Thursday, around 2 p.m. On Labor Day (Monday), travelers are recommended to leave bright and early, as traffic will begin increasing around noon.

Stay Away…

…from these airports, which Expedia predicts will be the busiest in the country during the holiday weekend.

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
2. Los Angeles International Airport
3. Chicago O’Hare International Airport
4. John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York City
5. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
6. San Francisco International Airport
7. Denver International Airport
8. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
9. McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas
10. Charlotte Douglas International Airport, North Carolina

If you must go through one of these hubs, get there well in advance of your departure time so that you don’t run the risk of missing your flight due to extra long security lines.

Be Patient

Expedia analyzed booking data and found that 10 markets in North America offer exceptional deals when users book less than three days before they travel. In some cases, travelers can save up to 30 percent. If you’re looking for a last-minute Labor Day getaway, these are the cities to keep an eye on:

1. Phoenix
2. Austin, Texas
3. New Orleans
4. Detroit
5. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
6. Chicago
7. Dallas
8. Riviera Maya, Mexico
9. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
10. Orlando

Travel Smart

Don’t forget the usual travel tips! They apply during the holidays, too!

Pack smart (and light!) so that you have everything you need —and nothing you don’t. If you can  fit everything in a carry-on and you’ll be able to skip the check-in lines as well as the wait at the baggage carousel.

Research attractions and plan your schedule before you arrive so that you don’t waste precious vacation time looking for fun things to do when you could be doing them.

Be flexible! You never know what life will throw at you—especially during one of the busiest holidays of the year. If you miss a connection or get lost while on the road, don’t let it ruin your weekend. Stay positive, and be open for an unexpected adventure.

Posted 4:02 PM

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