JACKSONVILLE, Fla – AAA is predicting another record-breaking year for holiday travel. AAA forecasts 115.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more between Saturday, Dec. 21 and Wednesday, Jan. 1. This would be the largest travel volume since AAA began tracking in 2000.
“Holiday cheer is at an all-time high this year, with unemployment at historically low levels, and noted improvements in both disposable income and household net worth,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “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.”
A majority of travelers will hit the road with an estimated 104 million people choosing to drive to their holiday destinations. That figure shows roadway travel is up 4% from last year.
For anyone hitting the roads. this translates down to a lot more company on the roadways, and more congestion too. Experts warn about encountering a driver with road rage and advise you yourself are careful about dishing out your own rage at other drivers.
To ensure a safe arrival, AAA recommends the following 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 911 if needed
The good news is, most drivers will see gas prices drop before the start of the new year. At last check Friday, gas prices are averaging $2.42/gallon. If you’re staying in the sunshine state, use FL 511 to access up-to-date traffic information, including travel times and incident reports.
"We both had the opportunity to get off of work and we decided to leave bright and early and make it there in a day and a half," Kathryn Albro said.
Albro and Joshua Sexton are driving to Syracuse from South Florida. It’s a 19-and-a-half hour day.
“We’re just trying to put the concerns behind us and focus on getting there so we’re really not trying to stress about it,” Sexton said.
Flying and Airports
AAA predicts peak travel to begin Saturday lasting until after Christmas. If you are traveling to one of the nation’s largest cities such as Atlanta or Washington, D.C., you could see double travel times. Although, New York City and Washington, D.C. could see triple the delays. You’ll be flying with an estimated 6.97 million Americans. With 4.9% growth, air travel will see the biggest increase in travel volume during the year-end holidays - the most since 2003.
AAA recommends the following for airports and plane travel:
- Prepare for busy airports, especially two to four days prior to the Christmas holiday, Dec. 21-23. The 22 is expected to be the single busiest air travel day of the holiday week.
- Plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to domestic flights and three hours before international flights. During peak travel times, contact the airline for guidance, as it may be necessary to arrive even earlier.
- Be aware of potential weather delays. Check flight status regularly before traveling to the airport.
News4Jax spoke with several air travelers at Jacksonville International Airport who were eager to head out.
“We just want to make sure we’re not overweight with presents,” one traveler said. “I think we’re heading out at the right time.”
Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships
If you’re taking a train, bus, or cruise ship, even you will encounter more delays and more people as compared to last year. AAA predicts 3.81 million Americans will opt for one of these modes for transportation this year. That’s 111,000 more people than chose to do so last year.
Overall, theme parks in Orlando and southern California, other warm-weather locales, and the iconic holiday destination New York City top the list of 10 most popular destinations in the U.S. for the year-end holidays, based on advance AAA Travel bookings