Labor Day is the last real day of summer so there is always a lof of pressure to wring the maximum amount of joy or relaxation out of those 24 carefree hours. In fact, there is so much emphasis placed on enjoying the long weekend that many Americans get stressed out, decide they have to do something and find themselves stuck in gridlock.
Getting away is good, but exchanging one type of stress for another doesn't solve anything. The crowds in Napa, on Cape Cod and in the Hamptons are inevitable, but not dealbreaking for travelers who have a plan and stick to it. The most successful Labor Daytrippers follow the advice given by animated bags of popcorn before movies: They turn off their cell phones and figure out where the exits are.
They also pack intelligently, bringing water, liquor and ibuprofen. It is going to be hot, there's no excuse not to and 11 a.m. drinks don't feel great come 3 p.m.
All that said, no amount of planning will help travelers avoid Labor Day disaster if they choose the wrong destination. Here is a last minute warning from wanderers in the know, if you enter these five cities this weekend, you will be doing so at your own peril.
Turn back while you still can.
5) Bridgeport, Connecticut
This seemingly innocuous coastal town is normally a short drive from New York City. That will change this Saturday according to a study by Inrix, <a href="http://inrix.com/" target="_hplink">a traffic information provider</a>, which claims <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-yorkers-to-face-worst-labor-day-traffic-nationwide-167670225.html?utm_expid=43414375-18&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Furl?sa%3Dt%26rct%3Dj%26q%3D%26esrc%3Ds%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D4%26ved%3D0CDMQFjAD%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.prnewswire.com%252Fnews-releases%252Fnew-yorkers-to-face-worst-labor-day-traffic-nationwide-167670225.html%26ei%3DLsA_UNj9JcXn0QGb4IGICw%26usg%3DAFQjCNH_aITPsZ3NBwWDNmRsXMJ-7gOEeg" target="_hplink">the town will be the fifth most congested in America</a> behind, well, NYC itself. That means drivers can look forward to gridlock on Rt. 1 and the eating a late lunch at Roy Rogers while getting texts from their friends at the beach.
Want to join a group of bow tie- and cowboy hat-clad bros pretending they have something in common -- other than severe sun burns -- while shielding their eyes with copies of Atlas Shrugged in order to avoid the pain of their white wine headaches? We don't either. If you do go though, remember to go to the <a href="http://newtampa.patch.com/articles/labor-day-weekend-things-to-do-in-around-new-tampa" target="_hplink">Pokemon League meeting</a> in New Tampa. Wouldn't want to miss that.
3) New Orleans
Storm chasing is fun, by tying up resources that could be used to help the newly homeless or jobless is selfish. Though the <a href="http://www.firstcoastnews.com/video/default.aspx?bctid=1814689131001&odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE%7Cfeatured" target="_hplink">crowds that gathered in the French Quarter</a> while Isaac lashed the coast seemed to be having a pretty good time, it would probably best to give the city some space as it drains and rebuilds.
Between the <a href="http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/The-312/August-2012/Chicago-More-Dangerous-Than-Kabul-Or-Not/" target="_hplink">gang wars</a> and <a href="http://glenview.patch.com/articles/west-niles-virus-cases-continue-to-climb-more-cases-reported-in-chicago-suburbs" target="_hplink">the West Nile outbreak</a>, the Windy City is looking pretty inhospitable this Labor Day.
The Democratic National Convention doesn't start until Tuesday, which means that the streets of Charlotte will be full of protesters looking for TV cameras, TV cameras looking for politicians, politicians looking for their hotels and security personnel looking very suspiciously at everyone staying in said hotels. On the plus side, the President's imminent arrival should mean that streets are already being blocked off for the motorcade, making it more difficult to get around. As if all that wasn't enough, <a href="http://www.charlottemagazine.com/Charlotte-Magazine/September-2012/The-DNC-Convention/One-on-One-with-Wolf-Blitzer/" target="_hplink">Wolf Blitzer will be in town.</a>