If you’re a fashion traditionalist, this weekend is your last opportunity to don your favorite white outfit. This year features the longest possible unofficial summer: Memorial Day fell on the earliest possible date (May 25th) while Labor Day will stretch the calendar to the limit (September 7th.) A longer summer can mean more travel, and this year will likely see the most Americans traveling on Labor Day weekend since 2008.
If you’re among the majority of Americans traveling over Labor Day weekend, your white clothes will most likely be packed into a car rather than an airplane. AAA expects 35.5 million Americans will travel over 50 miles during the Labor Day holiday, with an estimated 87% traveling by car. This is up from 31.3 million in 2009. Traveling by plane might be quicker, but it is often much more expensive, is packed with people, and your only sightseeing is the inside of the airport.
Is there anything more American than a good old-fashioned road trip? The freedom of the open road, the beauty of the landscape, and the towns and people you meet along the way make for a unique experience. There is no stressing about airport lines, rushing to make a flight, or having to sit next to a not-so-happy child. It is also a bit of a challenge to play “I Spy” when traveling at 39,000 feet.
A recent travel study of over 2,500 respondents conducted by Trip Advisor indicated that 41% plan on traveling over the Labor Day holiday. So, where is everybody headed? According to Priceline.com, the top Labor Day destinations include Las Vegas, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and Atlanta. While large cities are invariably a big draw, many will take advantage of the extended weekend to visit friends and family strewn across the country. And, as a nation infatuated with sports, the first weekend of college football will surely entice fans to traverse the country to cheer on their alma mater.
Nearly 50 percent of Trip Advisor respondents say they will be traveling over 100 miles to their destination. In years past, the average round-trip mileage stood at approximately 600 miles, which has many thinking about fuel mileage. Family trips often require a gas guzzling minivan or SUV to carry the crew and all of their stuff. While electric vehicles may be a solution for some, the average distance for an electric car on a single charge currently stands at approximately 100 miles. There must be a bridge between the gasoline-based infrastructure we depend on today and the alternative fuels of tomorrow.
On this most American of holidays, where we celebrate the American worker while enjoying the open road en route to barbecuing meat, it give us a chance to pause and reflect. As we travel on roads built by the American worker, driving machines increasingly built overseas, it begs the question – what will be the next great innovation in travel that showcases American ingenuity and creates more American jobs? We’ll raise a glass to that!
Happy Labor Day!