According to AAA, the record-breaking 112.5 million travelers taking to the nation’s runways, roads and rails for the year-end holidays represents a 4.4 percent increase over last year and the most since AAA has been tracking holiday travel.
The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, through Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. The 11-day span is one day longer than last year, due to Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Tuesdays this year.
More Americans will travel by car this holiday season than ever before. The 102.1 million people expected to pack up their cars for road trips is 4.4 percent higher than last year. It is the most since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2001.
The 6.7 million people who will travel by air this year is the highest level in 15 years and is 4.2 percent more than last year. A record 45.7 million passengers are expected to fly on domestic airlines from Dec. 20 to Jan. 6.
Trains, buses and cruise ships
Travel across these sectors will increase by 4 percent, with a total 3.7 million passengers.
Based on historical and recent travel trends, INRIX expects drivers to experience the greatest amount of congestion before the holiday week, starting on Wednesday, Dec. 19, as commuters and holiday travelers mix on our nation’s busiest roadways.
Drivers in Atlanta, New York City, Boston and Houston will see travel times more than three times a normal trip. According to INFRIX, the worst day to travel in Atlanta is Saturday, Dec. 22, and the worst time to travel is between 3 and 4 p.m.
Wherever you’re heading, if you’re traveling during the holiday season, you need to realize that everyone else in the world is, too. The Travel Channel suggests the following holiday travel tips:
- Do your research – Plan alternative trips if traffic makes your way home too overwhelming. Take a more scenic drive that might be longer but have less traffic. When flying, make sure you check the airline’s restrictions ahead of time on carry-on luggage and fees for checked bags.
- Stay connected – Before you leave home, Stock up on the latest travel apps that approximate travel and security times, and helps you find gas and the cleanest bathrooms on the road.
- Pack light – Avoid checking bags if you can. If you do check luggage, make sure you have all your medications, important documents and change of clothes in your carry-on just in case your luggage gets lost.
- Pack earplugs – The best way to mentally escape your stressful surroundings is to turn the volume down with earplugs. And if you really want to check our for a bit, bring an eye mask (as long as you are not driving).
- Don’t get hangry – When your tummy growls, your mind cant’ think straight, and you could unknowingly get in the wrong line, take the wrong turn, or worse, upset an innocent flight attendant. Pack snacks and drinks, so you and your family will be fueled up for a road trip.
- Ship gifts or give gift cards – TSA suggests to ship wrapped gifts or wait until you reach your destination to wrap them, as they might have to unwrap a present to inspect it.
- Travel on off-peak days – The Wednesday before
- Travel early or late in the day – Flight statistics show the planes traveling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance. The best time to hit the road, is when every one else is asleep – early morning or late at night.
- Plan for the unexpected – Think ahead and plan accordingly. Leave extra time before flights to deal with security, extra time between connections and, for road trips, pack tire chains for snowy conditions, flashlights, and other essentials.
An analysis of AAA’s flight booking data from the last three years revealed that most holiday air travelers depart two or three days before Christmas and return the day after the holiday. This holiday season, Saturday, Dec. 22, Sunday, Dec. 23, and Wednesday, Dec. 26, will be the busiest days in the skies and at the airports.
Fewer holiday travelers choose to fly on Christmas Eve (Monday, Dec. 24) and Christmas Day (Tuesday, Dec. 25), which are the lightest travel days around the Christmas holiday.
AAA expects to rescue more than 960,000 motorists at the roadside this year-end holiday period. Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble.
AAA recommends motorists take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown.
The information printed above was provided by AAA, INTRIX, and the Travel Channel.