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AAA forecasts 115 million Americans will travel during the holidays

By Jonna Lorenz
AAA projects 115.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or farther during the 10 days from Dec. 23 to Jan. 1 File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
AAA projects 115.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or farther during the 10 days from Dec. 23 to Jan. 1 File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- More than 115 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or farther over the holidays in 2023, up 2.5 million from last year, AAA reported Monday.

This year's expected travel ranks second to 2019, when 119.3 million Americans traveled over the holidays and is the second-highest travel forecast since record-keeping began in 2000.

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"More Americans are investing in travel, despite the cost, to make memories with loved ones and experience new places," AAA Travel Senior Vice President Paula Twidale said in a news release.

Roads will be the busiest, with 90%, or 103.6 million people, traveling by automobile during the 10 days from Dec. 23 to Jan. 1, up 1.8% from 101.8 million in 2022 and down 4.1% from 108 million in 2019.

INRIX projected that traffic will be heaviest on Dec. 23, 28 and 30.

"Nationwide, drivers could see travel times up to 20% longer this holiday season," Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX said in a news release. "In major metros, especially in Denver, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., drivers could experience nearly double the typical delays."

He recommended using traffic apps and local transportation notifications to plan travel. Best times to drive will be before noon or after 7 p.m.

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Airports will see 6.5% of holiday travelers, with 7.51 million Americans projected to fly, up 4.7% from 7.17 million last year and 2.4% from 7.33 million in 2019.

About 4.05 million Americans are expected to take other modes of transportation, such as bus, train or cruise, this holiday season, up 10.7% from 3.66 million in 2022 and 4.1% from 3.89 million in 2019.

Gas prices are forecast to be about the same or less than last year, when the national average price for a gallon of gas was $3.10 on Christmas Day and $3.20 on New Year's Day, AAA reported.

Airline tickets also are expected to be lower, with a roundtrip ticket to Orlando averaging $613, compared with $735 last year. Those traveling to Las Vegas can expect to pay an average of $508 for a roundtrip ticket, compared with $705 last year.

AAA projected similar increases in travel over the Thanksgiving holiday, when 55 million Americans planned to travel, up 2.3% from last year.

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