’Tis the season to travel. AAA estimates 112.7 million people will journey 50 miles or more away from home from December 23 to January 2. That’s 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.
“With Christmas Day and New Year’s Day both falling on Sunday this year, more Americans are planning to travel to take advantage of those long holiday weekends,” said Bevi Powell, senior vice president, AAA East Central. “More people are using these much-needed breaks to reconnect with loved ones and recharge their batteries during the holiday-travel season.”
Nearly 102 million Americans will drive to their holiday destinations. Despite roller-coaster gas prices in 2022, this holiday season will see an additional 2 million drivers compared to 2021. Travel by car this year is on par with 2018 but shy of 2019 when 108 million Americans drove out of town for the holidays, the highest year on record.
Air travel will see a 14% increase over last year, with nearly 7.2 million Americans expected to fly. Flights and airports will be packed this holiday season, reminiscent of pre-pandemic days. Demand for flights has surged despite higher airline ticket prices. AAA expects the number of people taking holiday flights this year will come close to matching 2019, when 7.3 million Americans traveled by air.
Other modes of transportation are also rebounding in a big way. AAA estimates travel by bus, rail and cruise ship will rise to 3.6 million this holiday season, a 23% increase from last year and nearly 94% of 2019’s volume.
Protect yourself — and your trip
AAA recommends working with a trusted travel advisor who can provide advice and serve as an advocate before, during and after a trip. Their extensive knowledge and expertise allow them to help travelers with questions related to travel insurance options, domestic and international destinations and attractions, what to do if last-minute changes to a trip are needed and much more. To get started and to learn more, visit AAA.com/Travel.
Theme parks, Vegas & NYC top holiday getaways
Theme parks in Orlando and southern California, Las Vegas and the iconic holiday destination of New York City top the list of the most popular destinations in the U.S. for the year-end holidays, based on advance national AAA Travel bookings:
New York, NY
Las Vegas, NV
AAA to rescue almost 900,000 at the roadside
The more than 100 million Americans planning to drive over the holidays need to be prepared for slowdowns and breakdowns. AAA expects to respond to close to 900,000 calls for help. Before a trip, vehicles should be inspected to check key components like the battery, fuel system, tires, brakes and fluid levels to avoid an unnecessary breakdown. It’s important to do this as early as possible in case there is an issue that needs to be fixed.
Rushing Home for the Holidays
INRIX, a provider of transportation analytics and insights, expects the most congested days on the road to be Friday before Christmas, December 27 and 28, and on Monday, January 2, as travelers mix with commuters. In major metros, motorists could experience double the typical delays. Nationwide, motorists could see travel times up to 25% longer.