Get ready for traffic, travel, and flight delays this holiday season as millions plan to travel.
AAA estimates close to 113 million people will travel 50 miles or more, nationally, from home between December 23 to January 2, which is a 3% increase from last year. This is the closest holiday travel has neared to pre-pandemic levels since 2019, when almost 120 million traveled for the holiday.
The annual AAA report outlines the need for travelers to plan early, travel early, and expect significant delays during the journey — whether it be by land, air, or mass transit.
For a more thorough breakdown of essential holiday and airport travel tips, check out Inquirer reporter Michelle Myer’s latest. Otherwise, here are some of the key takeaways from people-will-travel-from-december-23-to-january-2/”>AAA’s 2022 Year-End Travel Forecast.
A whopping majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destination this year, more than 90% to be precise. While gas prices set records earlier this year, in the Philly area the cost per gallon has dropped to $3.64, lightening the load on travel expenses.
An additional 2 million drivers (compared to last year) will be on the roads. According to INRIX, a transportation analytics company cited in the AAA report, the most congested days on the road will be the Friday before Christmas (Dec. 23), Dec. 27, and 28, and the day after New Year’s Day, Monday, Jan. 2.
In large metro areas, drivers could be looking at doubled delays in traffic compared to regular commutes. Across the U.S., an increase of 25% in traffic is expected.
Airports will be congested this holiday, according to AAA. An estimated 7.2 million people are expected to travel by plane this year, a 14% increase compared to last year.
Tickets are expensive too, as flights are in huge demand and travel experts say the best deals are mostly already gone. While the number of air travelers has bounced back to near pre-pandemic levels, airlines are still operating fewer flights than in 2019, according to the AP.
“If the distance is not reasonable to drive, more people are taking flights to maximize the time spent at their destination,” said Paula Twidale, AAA’s Senior Vice President of Travel, in a press release. “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.”
» READ MORE: Here’s what to expect if you’re leaving Philly this holiday season
Travel by bus, rail, and even cruise ship will have the highest increase of travelers compared to last year with 23% more people using those modes of transportation this year.