As hotels, resorts, restaurants and attractions compete to lure in new customers, it's tough to find a completely quiet vacation week. Airplanes often fly completely full and traffic can be a nightmare in any major city. Nonetheless, some times of the year guarantee an even more crowded experience than usual. To minimize prices and maximize your enjoyment, try to avoid significant travel on the worst travel days of the year.
The week leading up to Christmas is the worst time of year to travel, according to statistics compiled by Orbitz and published by "Consumer Traveler." The Friday before Christmas and the two days after Christmas are among the four worst travel days of the season, according to ABCNews.com. However, many people remain in their destination through New Year’s Day. Expect premium prices, packed attractions and gridlocked local traffic. ABCNews.com points out that January 2 is also one of the four worst travel days during this time period.
Although it turns out to be a myth that the day before Thanksgiving is the worst travel day of the year, the holiday weekend easily ranks among the top ten, especially for drivers. NPR.org notes that the entire weekend is often fraught with traffic. On Wednesday, people headed to far-flung festivities make up the bulk of the travelers. On Thursday, drivers are on the road to and from destinations that are within a day’s drive. Known as Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, snarling local traffic from the wee hours until late night.
Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend bookend the official summer tourist season. Many families hit the road en route to local beaches or more distant attractions as they search for fun in the sun. Both weekends are heavily celebrated across the United States, presenting plenty of opportunities for high prices and snarled traffic. The precise dates for spring break vary by school district, but the holiday generally gives a week-long school break sometime around Easter. According to the Orbitz data, the last week in March is one of the busiest travel weeks of the year.
Although the holidays draw massive crowds, the airlines note that the worst days for air travel do not fall during any holiday period at all. They point out that the busiest air travel days of all are Thursdays and Fridays throughout the summer. In addition, delays are more likely to occur on those flights due to summer thunderstorm patterns. If you need to fly during the summer, consider traveling on alternative days.