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For Labor Day, 35 million U.S. travelers will pay more for hotels, gas

Highest number of travelers since 2008 expected on freeways, at airports over Labor Day weekend

Almost 35 million Americans are expected to travel on Labor Day weekend, an increase of 1.3% from 2013. The small year-over-year increase doesn't mean airports and freeways won't be crowded. AAA Travel says 2014 will see the highest volume of holiday travelers since the 2008 recession.

"Consumer spending continues to outpace disposable income, indicating that Americans are comfortable using their credit cards to take one last summer vacation this year," Marshall L. Doney, AAA chief operating officer, said in a statement.

Of those holiday travelers, 86% will go by car and 8% will fly. AAA based its forecast on trips of 50 miles or more from home between Thursday and Sept. 1.

Airlines for America says the number of fliers will increase 2% to 14 million, up from 13.8 million, but it counts the holiday as seven days, beginning Wednesday and concluding Sept. 2.

Travelers can expect to pay less for gas -- prices in early August were lowest since 2010 -- and about the same price for car rentals ($51 a day on average). The forecast says round-trip discounted airfares will cost 2% more than last year ($219, on average).

Lodgings, however, are another matter. Hotels rated three diamonds by AAA have increased 6% for an average $171 per night, and two-diamond properties have gone up 9% for an average $125 per night.

Online travel booking site Hotwire says the most popular Labor Day destinations in the U.S. based on reservations made are Chicago, San Diego, New York City, Las Vegas and New Orleans, according to searches on its website. Los Angeles ranks No. 7.

American Express Travel reports top U.S. destinations for air travelers are New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orlando, Fla., and Maui.

For those who haven't yet decided where to go, Hotwire offers a look at the cities with the steepest hotel price drops over the holiday weekend: Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Buffalo and Niagara Falls in New York, and San Antonio.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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