Road-trippers have had it easy the past few years. The Great Recession took a significant toll on vacation travel, leaving the highways and byways a little less crowded on holiday weekends. But according to AAA, the party's officially over.
In a new travel forecast, AAA predicts that 34.1 folks will hit the road over the upcoming Labor Day weekend. That's 4.2 percent above the 32.7 million who did so last year.
Worse -- at least for those hoping to drive -- 85 percent of those last-minute vacationers will be traveling by car. In fact, 29.2 million will be road-tripping to their destination of choice, up from 28 million in 2012.
And those trips aren't going to be over the river and through the woods, either. AAA estimates that the average round trip will clock in at 594 miles.
If you're what we politely call "traffic averse", there are a couple of ways that you can dodge the stress and tsoris of roadway congestion.
Leave early: about half of all those traveling over the Labor Day weekend will depart on Friday. If you can hit the road Thursday -- even Thursday night, after work -- you'll leave many of them in the dust.
Come home late: most vacationers will head home on Monday, so if you can arrange to come back Tuesday, you might have smoother sailing. (But don't forget: Tuesday will be a regular workday for most people, meaning that you'll hit the usual rush-hour traffic when passing through highly populated areas.)
Take to the skies: AAA expects air traffic to increase a modest 2.8 percent above Labor Day 2012. If you can jet to a beach, mountain, or theme park, you might get there faster. Sure, plane tickets can be pricey, but remember, gas isn't free, either: the average is about $3.54 per gallon.
Are you planning a holiday trip? If so, how are you planning to get there? And do you have any tips for avoiding travel headaches? Let us know in the comments below.