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35 Million People Will Travel This Labor Day: Avoid the Roads on Friday and Monday!

How much will gas cost this Labor Day? And with how many other (millions of) motorists will you be sharing the road? We look at these and other Labor Day stats.
Published
Summer

Deep sigh: Summertime is over... or is it? Labor Day gives us one last chance to hit one out of the park, even as baseball season winds down and the lifeguards take a final crack at burnishing their tans.

So how will you enjoy the fruits of your labor? Will you bask in the sunshine, or will you stay indoors (at least for a little bit!) to shop those Labor Day sales? Here's some telling stats about the holiday.

The Best Days to Drive: Thursday or Tuesday

Go ahead: Joke all you want about the ideal vacation being 23 days long and see what your boss has to say about it. For the rest of us, expanding the vacay out just one more day — at least starting Thursday or ending Tuesday — helps dodge one super-aggravating obstacle: the traffic.

Historically, US roadways become parking lots on the Fridays and Mondays of Labor Day, according to travel journalist and expert Peter Greenberg. (We've also found that travel is more affordable if you go the weekend before or after this holiday.) And let's face it: Pitching a beach blanket on your car roof is no one's idea of a good time.

The Average Cost of Regular Gas: About $2.66 a Gallon

Gas prices have bounced around like a beach ball of late, rising slightly in mid-August as opposed to earlier in the month. But as of August 18, the price had dipped from a month ago, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. A month prior, the price was $2.76. Cheapest in the nation was South Carolina ($2.18). And as has been the puzzling case of late, California leads the nation in highest price ($3.56), even above Hawaii ($3.20).

The First Labor Day Parade: 1882

While nowadays we think of a Labor Day parade as a trip to the nearest beach, it was a much different matter in 1882. On September 5, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York. It was the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history, says the History Channel. It all stemmed from the fact that back in the day, industrial workers slaved away for 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894. If it weren't for those who came before us, we wouldn't have this holiday weekend in the first place — or any weekends off at all.

The Very First (Canadian) Labor Day: 1872

Just as Americans can't take credit for Neil Young and Trivial Pursuit, we also can't claim rights to the first Labor Day: All those accomplishments belong to our neighbor to the North. The first official Labor Day took place in Toronto more than 140 years ago, and made its way down to the States soon after. They also celebrate it the first Monday in September and as you might've guessed, it's known there as Labour Day. Feel free to mark the holiday with a hearty, "Good Day, eh?"

Expected Air Passengers: 14.2 Million

That number comes courtesy of the trade group Airlines for America, and reflects a 3% increase from 2014. If the forecast holds up, it could help break all records for summertime air travel. About 1.6 million of those Labor Day travelers will be international, and 12.6 million domestic.

Total Estimated Travelers: More Than 35 Million

While AAA doesn't have its Labor Day estimates out, we did the math based on their past figures. In 2013, 34.1 million travelers journeyed 50 miles or more from home during the holiday weekend, rising to 34.7 million in 2014. Projecting based on that slight increase, it's a good bet we'll see more than 35 million people taking to the roads and skies. Especially since in 2014, the jump was bolstered by a strong housing market, which is even stronger this year. As for how many people will get lost despite the help of a GPS, not even the Waze navigation app can predict that.

Breaking of the 'No White After Labor Day' Rule: Early 1920s

OK, so this isn't a precise number, but boy is it a hoot. The history of this insipid rule that some people still honor belongs to the upper crust. They would put away their white clothes after the Labor Day holiday to return to the world of debutante balls and hostile corporate takeovers.

Enter Coco Chanel, who undid all that silly business — and flamboyantly so — by wearing a white wardrobe all year round. More recently, Michelle Obama wowed as the new First Lady by wearing a single-shouldered, white chiffon gown at the 2009 inaugural ball, designed by Jason Wu. Care to take up that no-white wardrobe rule with her?

Today many of us work too hard, and for too many hours, by our own volition. Now's the time to take a break. Take a vacation. Take a dip in a local pool. Take some time to do some shopping. But whatever you do with summer's end, don't take it for granted!


Contributing Writer

Lou Carlozo is a DealNews contributing writer. He covers personal finance for Reuters Wealth. Prior to that he was the Managing Editor of WalletPop.com, and a veteran columnist at the Chicago Tribune.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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