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5 Tips To Avoid Travel Delays Amid Skyrocketing Summer Crowds

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This summer travel season is set to be the busiest yet, with record-breaking crowds traveling by air and by car in the coming weeks.

According to AAA, more Americans will be traveling during the week of July 4th than ever before, with 43.2 million driving and 4.17 million flying. A further 3.36 million will be traveling by bus, cruise, or train, also setting a new record.

solo female traveler in airport

And although the week of July 4th will be the busiest, summer travel crowds won't slow down until the beginning of September.

The U.S. Transportation Secretary has already warned of major air travel delays this summer, and the roads are busier than ever before, leading to traffic delays.

Here are five smart tips for avoiding travel delays amid skyrocketing crowds this summer, no matter how you're traveling:

Crowded Airport

1. Book Early-Morning Flights

Flight delays are a huge problem right now. Massive crowds, ongoing FAA staffing shortages, airline meltdowns, and more have contributed to a high number of delays already this summer.

One of the best ways to avoid a delayed flight is to book an early-morning flight.

Based on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, 86% of flights departing between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. are on time, while only 66% of flights departing between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. are on time.

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Sunrise Flight

When one flight is delayed, it can create a domino effect for later flights in the day, so ensuring you're on the first flight out in the morning is a great way to avoid delays.

2. Avoid Flight Connections If Possible

Another way for air travelers to avoid delays this summer is flying nonstop and avoiding connections if at all possible.

Woman at airport

Nonstop flights are much less risky than flights with a layover. If your first flight is delayed, you run the risk of missing the second leg of your journey and getting stuck somewhere that's not your final destination.

If you can't find a nonstop flight, at least opt for a flight with a longer layover to provide some buffer time in case your first flight is delayed.


3. Don't Check Luggage On Flights

While checking luggage isn't directly tied to the likelihood of your flight being delayed or canceled, it's still a smart idea to travel carry-on only and skip checking your bags.

Why? Because if your flight does happen to be delayed or canceled, having your luggage with you gives you maximum flexibility.

This helps you avoid the risk of lost luggage, and it also helps you avoid delays at the baggage carousel after a flight.

A young girl with luggage in an airport

4. Driving? These Are The Best Times To Go

If you'll be driving around the 4th of July holiday, AAA offers useful guidelines for the best (and worst) times to get on the road.

You can apply this to any other summer weekend, as well as Labor Day weekend in early September.

Essentially, early morning or later in the evening (after 6 p.m.) are the best times to drive, especially for the upcoming 4th of July holiday.

Traffic on the highway

5. Arrive A Day Or Two Early For A Cruise

Cruises are more popular than ever because of their relaxing, all-inclusive nature. But the last thing you want to do is miss your dream trip due to a flight delay.

If you'll be flying to your cruise port, plan to arrive a day or two early and enjoy some sightseeing.

You may think you have plenty of time to get there on a morning flight if you don't have to be on the ship until 2 p.m. or 3 p.m., but it's not worth the risk of potentially missing your cruise.

Cruise ships sit in a busy cruise port

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