AAA is estimating that 112.5 million people (about one-third of the U.S. population) will travel this holiday season. This is a 4.4 percent increase compared to last year’s holiday season and the most since AAA started tracking holiday travel in 2001.
Peak road travel times
The holiday travel season begins December 22nd and runs through January 1st. The holiday season is a popular time to travel to visit family and friends. The entire period is have congested roads and busy airports but AAA expects today to be the worst day to travel on the roads.
Before you get on the road, give your car a thorough inspection and make sure you have roadside assistance coverage in case your car experiences mechanical troubles away from home. Roadside assistance will assist with minor inconveniences like locking yourself out of your car to bigger issues like towing and rental reimbursements.
Research by AAA and INRIX foresee travel times in major cities to be up to four times longer than usual. The worst time to travel in Chicago by road is December 24 between 1:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Peak air travel times
Airlines have a longer holiday travel period. The holiday travel period lasts for 18 days from Thursday, December 20th through Sunday, January 6th. Holiday air travel will be also be the busiest since 2003. This can be attributed to airplane tickets being at historic lows.
Air travelers will average 2.3 million per day. Saturday December 22nd, Sunday December 23rd and Wednesday, December 26 will be the busiest days for airports. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are expected to be the lightest traveling days.
Data from Hopper, an app that studies plane ticket prices, estimates that American travelers will spend $1.8 billion on air travel this holiday season.
Booking data from the last three years also shows most air travelers take off two to three days before Christmas and return home December 26th. TSA recommends that travelers arrive at least two hours early to have plenty of time to navigate through the crowded airports.