Timing is everything in life and never less important than when you have to plan out a vacation and invest money in your travel.
Not all travel days are created equal, especially if you’re one of the thirty million Americans that Perceptive Traveler reports will go overseas in a given year, clogging up the airports and bus lanes on the most jam-packed of all days. Which days are the worst of the year to queue up for a flight or drive or sail?
Before and After Thanksgiving
On the day of the last Thursday of the month of November, most travel is smooth sailing: people are at home or at their relatives, preparing to carve up turkeys and spoon out gravy. The days preceeding and succeeding Thanksgiving, however, can be national nightmares with traffic snarls and overbooked flights.
USA Today reported that not only did the number of travelers rise during the extended Thanksgiving week of 2013, but that the number of travel fatalities did as well, with over four hundred Americans succumbing to car crashes. Not only should you buckle up if you intend to get on the road, but you should do so well ahead of the day before Thanksgiving and well after the Friday following it.
If you cannot do so, try to travel later at night, when congestion will be somewhat improved.
Similar to Thanksgiving, the 25th of December may be a calm travel day but the week around it is often stuffed to the gills with travelers looking to go from home and back to home.
Priceline noted that the 20th of December was the only “good” travel date in December of 2013, with all the others filled up with tourists who clog airports and highways on their way to see relatives. Whether you are going far away to escape the cold or just heading to Grandma’s house for Christmas, do the travel as early as possible in December to avoid the rush.
Whenever a holiday comes around that gives a family enough time to enjoy two or three consecutive days away from home, it’s a surefire bet that millions of Americans will go on a mini-vacation.
USA Today claimed that Labor Day travel in 2013 hit a four-year high as Americans sought to travel on Thursday nights or Friday mornings and then return Sunday after a weekend spent at the lake or the mountains or a cruise or an amusement park.
Due to the short time frame, it’s quite difficult to avoid traffic and congestion if you intend to enjoy a three-day weekend. An alternative is to use up a sick day or vacation day the week before or after a day like Labor Day or Memorial Day or the 4th of July in order to get the same break without competing with millions of others.
Any Days In The Summer
Once the school bell rings for the last time in late May or early June, a huge number of vacations begin as parents take their kids to new places now that there’s no more classes for three months.
Fifty million public-school students get out for the summer each year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, on top of private-school students and college students who also get summer vacations.
If possible, plan to travel in early May or late September, when back-to-school keeps the vacations to a minimum.
In general, travel becomes the worst during the holidays; since that’s typically the only time when many people visit their families, it becomes necessary to compromise.
Early starts and late return visits can mitigate some of the travel crowding. Additionally, plan a vacation outside the normal time frames for travel, most notably the summer season.