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AAA’s 2023 Holiday Travel Forecast

AAA projects 115.2 million travelers will travel 50 miles or more from home over the year-end holiday travel period from Saturday, December 23 to Monday, January 1. The number of travelers is a 2.2% increase over last year and the second highest since 2000 when AAA began tracking holiday travel, behind only 2019.

Modes of Travel

Nearly 104 million people will drive to their holiday destinations, an increase of 1.8% compared to 2022 and the second-highest on record, behind only 2019. Gasoline prices are lower than last year with a current national average of $3.15 per gallon compared to $3.27 in 2022.

Airports are expected to be the busiest they’ve ever been over the year-end holiday travel period, with AAA projecting 7.5 million air travelers this holiday season, surpassing 2019’s record of 7.3 million passengers. Average ticket prices are slightly lower than last year.

The number of travelers taking some other mode of transportation, such as bus, train, or cruise, is also expected to surpass 2019. Slightly more than 4 million Americans are expected to travel by one of these modes, compared to 3.66 million last year and 3.89 million in 2019.

“This year-end forecast mirrors what we’ve been observing throughout 2023,” said Mark Schieldrop, Senior Spokesperson for AAA Northeast. “More Americans are investing in travel to make memories with loved ones and experience new places.”

Traffic Forecast

Saturday, December 23, and Thursday, December 28, will be the busiest days on the road, according to INRIX, a provider of transportation data. Saturday, December 30th, will also see an increase in traffic compared to a normal Saturday as some folks return from holiday getaways while others depart for their New Year’s celebrations. The best times to hit the road in general are before lunchtime or after 7pm.

Best and Worst Times to Travel by Car

DateWorst Travel TimeBest Travel Time
12/2311:00 AM – 7:00 PM Before 10:00 AM 
12/24Minimal Traffic ExpectedMinimal Traffic Expected
12/25Minimal Traffic ExpectedMinimal Traffic Expected
12/261:00 – 5:00 PM Before 12:00 PM 
12/271:00 – 7:00 PM Before 12:00 PM 
12/282:00 – 8:00 PM Before 12:00 PM 
12/292:00 – 8:00 PM Before 12:00 PM 
12/305:00 – 7:00 PM Before 12:00 PM 
12/31Minimal Traffic ExpectedMinimal Traffic Expected
1/1Minimal Traffic ExpectedMinimal Traffic Expected

Peak Congestion Near You

MetroCorridorPeak CongestionIncrease Over Typical Traffic
BostonBoston to Portsmouth via I-95 N Saturday 12/23, 4:15 PM 55%
New YorkNew York to Hamptons via Long Island Expy E Saturday 12/23, 2:30 PM 50%
Washington DCBaltimore to Washington DC via Balt/Wash Pkwy SFriday 12/29, 3:45 PM 67%

Airport Parking Tips

With a record number of air passengers expected this holiday season, AAA recommends travelers plan and take precautions when parking their vehicles at the airport. Drivers should reserve a spot ahead of time, keeping in mind that on-site garages tend to be more expensive. Choose a covered parking garage if inclement weather is expected. Remove valuables from the vehicle, lock doors and roll up windows. Take a picture of the location to assist in recalling where the vehicle is parked and hold on to the receipt.

For help planning a vacation that meets your needs, connect with a AAA travel advisor. To get started, visit AAA.com/Travel

Are you traveling this holiday season? Let us know in the comments below. Happy holidays!

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