Sunday, April 14, 2024

AAA Expects Nearly 113 Million Americans to be Away from Home for the Holidays

(WYDaily file)
(WYDaily file)

VIRGINIA BEACH — AAA estimates 112.7 million people will journey 50 miles or more away from home from Dec. 23 to Jan. 2, an increase of 3.6 million people over last year and closing in on pre-pandemic numbers.

2022 is expected to be the third busiest year for holiday travel since AAA began tracking in 2000, it added.

(AAA Tidewater)

“This year, travel time will be extended due to Christmas Day and New Year’s Day falling on Sundays,” says Holly Dalby, AAA Tidewater director of public affairs. “With hybrid work schedules, we are seeing more people take long weekends to travel because they can work remotely at their destination and be more flexible with the days they depart and return.”

Nearly 102 million Americans will drive to their holiday destinations, an additional 2 million drivers compared to 2021 despite fluctuating gas prices, AAA said. That’s on par with 2018 numbers and just shy of 2019 — the highest year on record.

Air travel will see a 14% increase over last year, with nearly 7.2 million Americans expected to fly despite higher airline ticket prices. AAA predicts the number of people taking holiday flights will come close to matching 2019, when 7.3 million Americans traveled by air.

If the distance is not reasonable to drive, more people are taking to the air to maximize the time spent at their destination,” Dalby adds. “Conversely, if the travel distances are reasonable and more than one or two people in the household are taking the trip, it may be more cost-effective to drive rather than buy multiple air tickets, rent a car, and spend too much money before the fun even begins.”

AAA also estimates travel by bus, rail, and cruise ship to rise to 3.6 million, a 23% increase from last year and nearly 94% of 2019’s volume.

INRIX, a provider of transportation analytics and insights, expects the most congested days on the road to be the Friday before Christmas, Dec. 27-28, and Monday, Jan. 2, as travelers mix with commuters. Major metro areas such as Los Angeles and New York City could see double the typical delays, and nationwide, drivers could see travel times up to 25% longer, it said.

“With pre-pandemic levels of travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in and around major metro areas, with Tuesday, December 27 expected to be the nation’s worst day to travel,” says Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Our advice is to avoid traveling during peak commuting hours. If schedules allow, leave bright and early or after the afternoon commute.”

(AAA Tidewater)

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