By: Nathalie Voit
The American Automobile Association (AAA) and Inrix predict more than 109 million Americans to travel for the holidays, according to a press release from the Orlando-based transportation analytics firm.
The figure represents a nearly 34% increase from last year, when 81.7 million travelers took to the skies or roads for their year-end holidays. That puts this year’s numbers much closer to 2019 levels, which saw 119.3 million Americans traveling for the holidays.
According to the forecast, road trips will remain the preferred mode of travel for most Americans. The report predicts 100 million people on the roads this year, despite higher gas prices compared to last year.
Over six million people are expected to travel by air, a nearly three-fold increase from 2020. Another three million Americans will travel by bus, trains, and cruises, the report says.
The forecast is based on people who travel 50 miles or more between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2.
“Americans who canceled their vacations in 2020 want to gather with family and friends for the holidays this year, although they will still be mindful of the pandemic and the new omicron variant,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “With vaccines widely available, conditions are much different and many people feel a greater level of comfort with travel.”
Theme parks, beaches, and Las Vegas are predicted to be the most popular end-of-year destinations. Places like Orlando, FL and Anaheim, CA will top the list of most frequented travel spots, AAA said.
Americans should prepare for higher prices this holiday season as more people flood airports, hotels, and car rental services, the forecast warned.
AAA also warned travelers to hit the road early and be on the lookout for heavy traffic and breakdowns. As many as 917,000 people are expected to call for assistance.
“With kids out of school and many Americans taking extended time off for the holidays, drivers will experience incremental delays throughout the week. Although congestion will be overall lighter than normal, knowing when and where major delays will likely happen will help save time and reduce stress this holiday season,” said Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst at INRIX.
In order to help travelers plan ahead for the road, Inrix provided an informational guide with the worst and best times to travel sorted by date and metro area/corridor.
AAA also advised would-be travelers to consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention page for an updated list of travel requirements.