How to Beat the Crowds When Traveling

Five ways for avoiding—or coping with—crowds at your next travel destination.

Glass pyramids outside the Louvre in Paris.
Avoid crowds at the world's most popular destinations with these helpful tips. 
Dhanoo Surasarang / Shutterstock

"The most popular time to visit many destinations is summer. If you can go in spring or fall, that helps." —AAA Travel Counselor Andrea Leslie 

Time it right.

On August 8, 2017, Edinburgh Castle had its busiest day on record: 12,631 visitors. That's a big crowd to navigate to get a glimpse of the Scottish crown jewels. But even if you choose to travel during high season, you can be smart about scheduling. Arrive at popular attractions early in the morning, before the masses slow you down.

Plan ahead.

Don't just book airfare and lodging: Reserve as much as you can in advance, including meals and activities. Research the venues you plan to visit, prioritize what you want to see, and know which area you'd like to head to first. Consider hustling to marquee spots early, then seeing other places at a more relaxed pace.

Build a buffer.

Leave room in your schedule so that you can absorb delays and spend extra time at places that captivate you. Streamlined transportation can help: "If you're not familiar with a country, don't drive," Leslie says. Book your ride, and you'll have more time to see the sights.

Go with a group.

Guided and VIP tours often get to use separate entrances for attractions. Some outfits, such as AAA partner Viator, offer skip-the-line packages with priority access and local guides.

Avoid stress.

If you can't escape crowds, embrace patience. And call on your AAA Travel counselor for support. "If there is anything you can count on, it's that travel is unpredictable," Leslie says. "We deal with anything and everything—booking cruises, securing tours, and assisting with travel insurance claims, if needed."