AAA Predicts Record-Breaking Holiday Travel

AAA just released its 2018 year end holiday travel forecast and it is predicted to be record breaking with 112.5 million expected to travel either by flying or driving.  It will be a 4.4 percent increase from last year’s numbers and the highest since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2001.  

According to AAA, 91 percent of travelers will do so by car with 102.1 million people on the road over this holiday season. A motivating factor is the drop in gas prices this year over last year’s when it dropped to an average of $2.46 per gallon the first week of December, which is 2 cents less than last year.

The numbers break down like this:

  • 102.1 million people are expected to travel by car
  • 6.7 million people will travel by air
  • 3.7 million will travel by trains, buses and cruise ships
  • Sat., Dec. 22 – Tues. Jan. 1, is the 11 day period of holiday travel for 2018.

Robert Sinclair of AAA stopped by CBSN New York’s studios to talk with Alex Denis about the forecast on Thursday and he said: “We’re anticipating in some cities as much as a quadrupling of travel time. Atlanta’s the worst, and New York’s right behind. So if a normal trip takes one hour, it’s going to take four hours,”Sinclair said.

Sinclair also told Denis that“there are more cars on the road. Just in New York City alone, between 2012 and 2017 the number of registrations for passenger vehicles has gone from 1,776,536 to 1,925,041, an 8.2 percent increase.”

“We’ve seen an additional 146,000 vehicles registered in the City of New York over the past five years. An additional 52,000 for-hire vehicles, the Ubers and Lyfts of the world, in a place where it’s so difficult to be a vehicle owner,”Sinclair said.

AAA data released also shows “that Thursday, Dec. 20 from 9:30 – 10:30 p.m. will be the worst time for travel in New York City.”

Here are some tips from Sinclair to pay attention to:

  • Timing is everything. Leave early if you can.
  • Drive with the aid of an app that uses real time traffic data
  • Consider alternate routes
  • Travel on the holiday itself. Most people leave before the holiday, and that’s when you’ll hit the most traffic.

Holiday travel hangup aren’t the only thing to pay attrition to.  You also need to be aware of Gridlock days. According to AAA, today as well as next Thursday and Friday are Gridlock Alert days in New York City.

For latest up-to-date travel advice watch: AAA’s Robert Sinclair On Holiday Travel.