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What is more frustrating than dealing with large crowds and standing in long lines? Crowds and lines on a holiday weekend. Either can ruin a perfectly good day when they eat up half your time off. Crowds and lines often spawn impatient spouses, bored kids, crying babies and rude people. That’s just no way to spend a holiday.

As Labor Day approaches, wise travelers avoid the large crowds and long lines so it becomes a labor day-off and not a labor day-near-the maddening-crowd. Use these tips to keep your Labor Day as sane as possible.

Drive When Road Traffic Is Light

You don’t want to get up at 5 a.m. to hit the road? Think of big empty lanes, no backed-up traffic at on-ramps and happy, cruising interstate drivers. These steps make the early start easier:

  • Gas up the car the day before Labor Day.
  • Pack the luggage in the trunk the night before the trip begins.
  • Prepare your coffee or snacks ahead of time to keep everyone a little less miserable.

Order as Many Tickets Online Ahead of Time as Possible

One of the best ways to avoid standing in line is to order tickets online. It’s such a simple way to avoid long lines, you have to wonder why anyone is standing at ticket booths or entrance gates. Buying them ahead of time makes the difference between oohing-and-aahing at a Smithsonian Institution Rembrandt and staring at the back-ends of other frustrated people in line at the ticket window. Also, ordering ahead for many places can give you deep discounts or even free entry.

Arrive Early at Every Event or Place of Interest

Early birds get on their theme park rides first without a wait. They also enjoy the viewfinder at the top of the Empire State Building first when they arrive before 10 a.m.

You can arrive at noon when everyone else is finally moving around, or you can arrive early and beat the crowd and lines in one fell swoop. Lines can form before you can say, “I need four tickets,” so visit popular rides or venues early in the morning and save less popular ones for later.

If you are headed out the door early, be sure that you have all the appropriate belongings with you for your day of adventuring. Check policies of each venue to keep from accidentally bringing in a prohibited item. Backpacks often have specific measurement maximums, and paying attention to these rules now will save you from losing time arguing with security.

Save Visits to Popular Spots for the Off-Season

You promised the family a visit to the Arches in Utah. It’s a place that, from March through October, promises increased travel times, traffic congestion, long lines at the entrance gate and full parking lots. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? It’s wiser to save popular attractions for non-holiday weeks or weekends, and use the long Labor Day weekend to visit less well-known attractions. It’s all about timing. If you haven’t explored local points of intrigue, Labor Day can be the perfect opportunity to see those quirky, quieter attractions you’ve always wanted to see.

These are just a few travel suggestions to spend less time in crowds and lines and more time enjoying a quality weekend with your loved ones. Do you have any off the map Labor Day adventure stories? Have you ever changed your Labor Day plans to avoid lines? Readers with long lines and crowds in their future would sure like to hear them.

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