Nearly 113 Million Americans Are Expected to Travel for the Holiday Season, According to AAA

Overall, travel this holiday season is expected to be the third busiest since AAA started tracking in 2000.

Travelers walk through the airport terminal at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia ahead of the Christmas holiday.

Saul Loeb/Getty Images

Nearly 113 million Americans are expected to travel during the holiday season between now and the new year, nearly equaling pre-pandemic levels.

In total, 112.7 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more away from their home from Dec. 23 through Jan. 2, according to AAA. Of those, nearly 102 million are expected to hit the road, just under the record-setting 2019 levels when 108 million Americans drove for the holiday season.

Overall, travel this holiday season is expected to be the third busiest since AAA started tracking in 2000.

“This year, travel time will be extended due to Christmas Day and New Year’s Day falling on Sundays,” Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel, said in a statement. “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.”

While most Americans will opt for a road trip, nearly 7.2 million people are expected to fly. That represents a 14% increase over last year and is nearly on par with the 7.3 million Americans who flew in 2019.

Additionally, travel by bus, rail, and cruise ship will see a 23% increase compared to the same time period last year with 3.6 million Americans expected to pick one of those.

“If the distance is not reasonable to drive, more people are taking to the air to maximize the time spent at their destination,” Twidale added. “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.”

The most crowded times to hit the road during the holiday season are expected to be on the Friday before Christmas, on Dec. 27, on Dec. 28, and on Jan. 2. Alternatively, travelers looking to avoid the congestion should drive in the mornings or in the evenings, typically after 8 p.m.

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