Record number of holiday travelers expected this year
As if the holiday season is not stressful enough, motorists can add doubling of travel times to the winter woes. AAA is expecting a record number of travelers this holiday season, as Inrix expects travel delays to double in some areas.
According to AAA, about 115.6 million Americans will be traveling from Dec. 21 through Jan. 1. A nearly 4% increase from last year, this year’s holiday travel numbers are the highest on record since AAA began keeping track in 2000.
More than 90% of those travelers will be driving to their destination. Compared to last year, there will be nearly 4 million more holiday drivers on this road this year.
Inrix, a traffic analytics company, is predicting some significant delays on Dec. 26 and 27. During the two days after Christmas, travel times are expected to double. In more congested cities like New York City and Washington, D.C., travel time may triple. However, delays throughout the holiday week as a whole will be mostly minimal.
“Travelers should be getting used to crowded highways and airports, as this marks the eighth straight year of new record-high travel volumes for the year-end holidays,” said Paula Twidale, AAA Travel vice president, in a statement.
On a side note, AAA had some friendly advice for Scrooges on the roadways to prevent road rage:
- Do not offend: Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction. That means not forcing another driver to use their brakes, or turn the steering wheel in response to something you have done.
- Be tolerant and forgiving: The other driver may just be having a really bad day. Assume that it is not personal.
- Do not respond: Avoid eye contact, don’t make gestures, maintain space around your vehicle and contact 9-1-1 if needed.
A strong economy and low fuel prices likely contribute to the increase in travelers this year.
In November, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nationwide unemployment rate was 3.5%, the lowest in half a century. On Monday, Dec. 23, TruckMiles.com reported average diesel prices to be $3.081. AAA is reporting average diesel prices of $2.994. This same time last year, TruckMiles.com had diesel prices at $3.124, and AAA reported a $2.989 average.
Although fuel prices are low, holiday travelers who need to rent a car will be paying more. According to AAA, the average rental daily rate is $84. That is an 11% increase from last year and the highest in a decade.
So where are people driving to during the holiday season? Mostly warmer climates, of course. Below are the top 10 destinations based on AAA Travel bookings:
- Orlando, Fla.
- Anaheim, Calif.
- Kahului, Maui, Hawaii.
- Las Vegas.
- Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
- New York.
- Tampa, Fla.
In terms of growth from the previous year, air travel will likely experience the largest increase in travelers this holiday season. AAA expects a 5% increase in those taking to the skies to get to their destination. About 7 million Americans are expected to fly, the highest since