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Last-Minute Labor Day Travel Advice

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Getting excited for one last hurrah this Labor Day? You’re not alone. Far from it, in fact.

According to travel club AAA, 34.1 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend. That’s up 4.2 percent from last year, and is the highest number since 2008, when a staggering 45.1 million took a vacation.

An “increasingly positive economic output and optimism in the housing market” are the main factors of this year’s higher numbers, says AAA president and CEO Robert Darbelnet. With home prices improving across much of the country, “more families are feeling comfortable about traveling.”

Another possible factor? Gas prices are down 2.7 percent from last year ($3.54 compared to 2012’s $3.83). And with 29.2 million Labor Day travelers taking to the roads, gas prices make a difference, especially since the average vacationer will journey nearly 600 miles.

Unfortunately, while fuel costs are down, AAA predicts that renting a car over the weekend will cost 32 percent more than last year, averaging $51 a day. Similarly, airline tickets will run higher this year, up four percent to roughly $214 on the country's most popular domestic routes. Want to get the biggest mileage out of your road trip? Here, the three apps to bring along:

Waze (Android, iOS) The most reliable real-time navigation app, it'll provide updates on traffic jams and accidents so that you're able to steer clear of slowdowns.

City Maps 2GO Lite (Android, iOS) All of its maps are downloadable (no roaming required!), and they cover teeny towns like Telluride, Colorado. Your first two maps are free, and unlimited access is only $2.99.

GasBuddy (Android, iOS) It locates the best deals, so you don't guzzle more gas money. Need we say more?

Spotify (Android, iOS, Windows Phone) Yes, it costs $9.99 for mobile access, but this unlimited music service is so worthwhile—even if it only means not hearing the same top twenty songs on repeat for the length of your trip. Plus, the app has a handful of location-based playlists to get you inspired.

Photo credit: © Frank Lukasseck/Corbis

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