It's Labor Day weekend, so if you're lucky enough to get to rest from your labor a little more with a long weekend, we've got everything you need to know about traveling, staying in town and much more.
Heading out of town
Heading of town? Expect heavier traffic throughout the weekend. Labor Day is fifth place among travel holidays, Automobile Club of Southern California spokesperson Jeff Spring told KPCC, but it's still top 5. He also expected to see heavy travel this weekend due to low gas prices and the centennial of the National Parks.
Gas prices haven't been this low since 2004, according to the Auto Club. They estimate that, while prices are slightly higher in Los Angeles than last week, this week's average of $2.74 a gallon is saving drivers $12 per fill-up over this time last year, and $22 per fill-up over 2012 prices. Read more about the low gas prices and why that's bad news for California's roads in this story from Meghan McCarty.
Spring said that a survey of Southern California travel agents had these as the top 5 places locals were planning to go this weekend:
- San Diego
- Las Vegas
- San Francisco
- Yosemite National Park
- Catalina Island
Spring offered these tips for traveling safely this weekend:
- Sleep: Get at least five hours of sleep before a road trip, or share the driving with someone else.
- Avoid distractions: In the five seconds it takes to answer a text, you can travel the distance of a football field in your car, so instead, pay attention to the road.
Caltrans has previously offered these tips for car trips:
- Travel early morning – before 10 a.m. all weekend through Monday
- Bring water
- Bring snacks and necessary medication
- Have a full tank of gas
- Make sure your car is in good running condition and that you've taken care of preventative maintenance
- Bring a charged cell phone, with a car charger
The best times to return home Monday would be before noon or after 8 p.m. if you want to avoid traffic, Caltrans says. Read more about travel and how to throw a barbecue in this Labor Day travel piece from last year.
The California Highway Patrol is also having a "maximum enforcement period" over the weekend, starting Friday night at 6 p.m. and continuing through Monday at midnight.
"The California Highway Patrol is going to put as many officers as possible on the roadways. So any officer that is not on scheduled vacation or not on scheduled days off, they're going to be working on this long weekend," CHP Southern Division spokesperson Kevin Tao told KPCC.
They're going to be looking for all sorts of violations, Tao said, such as:
- Not wearing your seatbelt
- Driving distracted
- Other violations that contribute to driving distracted
- Driving under the influence
In 2015, CHP made more than 209 arrests from either patrols or DUI checkpoints over the Labor Day weekend, Tao said. There were also 10 fatalities from six traffic collisions over the weekend, so remember to stay safe and have a designated driver if you're going to be drinking.
One thing that could make driving a little easier this weekend — there are no major highway construction closures, Caltrans spokesperson Kelly Markham told KPCC.
Flying through LAX
If you're flying into or out of LAX in the next few days, pack your patience. The airport has been experiencing a record number of travelers this year — and Labor Day weekend should continue that trend.
Officials expect 817,000 passengers to pass through the airport during the holiday weekend, an increase of 7 percent over last year. Friday is expected to be the busiest day — with 223,000 people passing through the airport — followed by Monday.
Mary Grady with Los Angeles World Airports urges people to take public transit, shuttle vans and share rides to and from the airport.
"All of those travelers, passengers have to get here somehow," she said, "and that means the volume of traffic in our central terminal area is expected to be slightly higher than normal."
If you do drive to LAX, dealing with traffic at the terminal may be easier. Navigation app Waze now works inside the airport's central terminal. The app's traffic information used to stop on Century Boulevard at the airport's entrance.
"Now you can actually as a Wazer see how slow things are moving or how quickly things are moving. If there's any specific congestion, if there's any traffic issues," Grady said.
Pro tip: Grady recommends drivers compare traffic on the arrival and departure decks — and drop off or pick up passengers on whichever level is less crowded. She also recommends picking up passengers at the cell phone waiting lot, located at 96th Street and Vicksburg Avenue.
In addition to traffic updates inside LAX's main loop, Waze will let drivers know if parking lots are closed.
The first six months of 2016 saw 3.5 million more passengers fly through LAX than the same period in 2015.
More Labor Day fun
- L.A. Fleet Week: Fleet Week runs through Monday — and it's totally free. Most of the advance tickets for free tours of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships are sold out, but we've got 11 other fun things you can do at Fleet Week.
- The Ride: Our travel show The Ride knows a lot of you will be hitting the roads, so they put together this Labor Day special to give you some food for thought on how Angelenos get around.
- 9 fun things for Labor Day weekend: There's plenty going on around town if you don't have travel plans, and we've got all the details. Be sure to check out the L.A. County Fair, Smiths and Morrissey Night at the Echoplex, a Juan Gabriel tribute karaoke night and much more.
- Swimming pools: Find out more about the swimming pools in Los Angeles and L.A. County. Many summer pools are still open, plus there are year-round pools you can always enjoy.
- What's the deal with Labor Day?: Want to know more about how what Labor Day means, especially in California? Here are 10 fun facts about labor and the holiday itself from a 2014 KPCC story.
- Getting ready for Halloween: It's still a ways away, but it's the next major holiday, so now could be a good time to get ready. If you're wondering why Halloween merch is already available in stores, you can check out this story NPR did back in 2011.
This story has been updated.