By Alaina Brandenburger

Getting out of town for Labor Day is a great way to close out the summer, but millions of people have the same idea. If you choose to leave the city for greener pastures this Labor Day, you will likely run into traffic. Use the following tips to skirt the traffic or have some fun while you’re stuck. No matter where you’re headed, you can make the journey as fun as the destination. 

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Leave Early, But Not Too Early

One of the best ways to beat the traffic is to take a couple of days off at the end of the week and leave early. However, leaving during off-peak hours can also save you some time. In Fortune magazine’s article, “Waze Data Shows Best Way to Beat Labor Day Traffic,” Christopher Elliott outlines key data from navigation app Waze, which showed that during the week of Labor Day, traffic patterns tend to follow those of rush hour traffic. “The best time to to drive before Labor Day is Thursday afternoon after 2 p.m. Traffic peaks between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.”

Download A Navigation App

A reason apps like Waze are so popular is that they allow users to report traffic issues in real time. By setting your route before you leave, you can be warned of hazards such as accidents and traffic jams ahead of time. This may allow you to recalculate your route or pull off the road for a meal or other activity while waiting for traffic to lighten up. Other apps include Trapster and Google Maps. 

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Schedule Your Tune Up

Nothing will throw a wrench into your long weekend getaway plans like a broken down car. Regardless of how far you’re traveling, it’s a good idea to schedule maintenance before you leave. Consumer Reports offers the following advice for preparing for a road trip: “Perform basic maintenance on your vehicle before you head out such as checking wipers and fluid levels. Also, schedule any necessary service such as oil changes or tune ups. A vehicle in top shape will have a better chance of staying reliable and efficient.” Taking care of maintenance before you leave can reduce the chance of having to find a mechanic or roadside assistance. 

Plan Your Playlist

Music is a great way to de-stress on the highway, which is essential if you’re stuck in a traffic jam. According to the National Institute of Health, “…listening to music can positively impact mood while driving, which can be used to affect state and safe behavior. Additionally, driving performance in high demand situations is not negatively affected by music.” If you’re road tripping with friends of family, make a few road trip playlists with something for everyone. That way, if you find yourself stuck on the freeway, you can sing the stress away.

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Find A Few Stops

Another great way to beat traffic is to stay out of it. When planning your trip, schedule some detours, such as hikes, points of interest and local dining spots for meals. Not only is this a great way to get to know the area, but it can also help you pass the time while waiting for traffic to thin out. Even if you end up back in traffic when you return to the road, having some time to stretch and get some fresh air can make the rest of the drive more pleasant.