- Jeanette Casselano AAA Public Relations
‘Tis the season to traditionally spend with family and friends and this year Americans are traveling in record numbers. AAA forecasts 107.3 million Americans will take to planes, trains, automobiles and other modes of transportation during the year-end holiday period from Dec. 23 through Jan. 1. This will be the highest year-end travel volume on record and a 3.1 percent increase in travel volume compared with last year. 2017 marks the ninth consecutive year of rising year-end holiday travel. Since 2005, total year-end holiday travel volume has grown by 21.6 million, an increase of more than 25 percent.
“More expensive gas prices are not swaying holiday revelers to stay home,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “In fact, across the board this year, travel has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend – Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving – and we project the same for the year-end holiday period. We’ve seen the strong economy and growing consumer confidence fuel holiday travel all year long.”
For the 97.4 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, in collaboration with AAA, predicts travel times during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the normal trip.
By the numbers: 2017 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast
- Automobiles: The majority of travelers – 97.4 million – will hit the road (a 3 percent year-over-year increase).
- Planes: 6.4 million people will travel by air, a 4.1 percent increase and the fourth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.
- Trains, Buses, Rails and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 2.2 percent to 3.6 million.
Holiday headache hotspots
Based on historical and recent travel trends, INRIX expects drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion before the holiday week.
“With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in major metros,” says Dr. Graham Cookson, chief economist & head of research at INRIX. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak times altogether or consider alternative routes.”
- Try to avoid traveling through major cities during peak travel times. The best times to leave are typically early morning or after the morning commute because the roads should be less crowded and you will have more time to get to your destination safely. If your schedule permits, traveling on the holiday itself often results in fewer cars on the road.
- Get plenty of rest before setting out on a holiday road trip and schedule breaks every two hours or 100 miles to remain alert and avoid driving drowsy. Also, be aware of the dangers of driving distracted. Drivers should designate a passenger to serve as their official text messenger and navigator.
Lockouts, flat tires to strand nearly 1 million motorists
The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations, and AAA expects to rescue nearly one million (901,600) motorists. Car battery-related issues, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA is called for roadside assistance over the holidays.
Before hitting the road, make sure your vehicle is road-trip ready. Stop by a trusted repair shop for an inspection. In case of an emergency, be prepared by keeping a cell phone and charger with you at all times. Carry an emergency kit with a flashlight, extra batteries, warning devices such as flares or reflective triangles, jumper cables, a first-aid kit and extra water.