The holiday travel season is expected to see 115.2 million people nationwide venturing more than 50 miles from home, and 103.6 million of them will drive to their destinations, according to AAA.
In Virginia, 3.2 million will travel for the end of the year, and 90 percent or 2.85 million will drive. AAA Mid-Atlantic in Virginia said that’s 1 percent more than last year but 4 percent fewer than in 2019.
“AAA has seen a strong demand for travel throughout the year, and the end-of-year holiday is no exception,” said Morgan Dean, with AAA Mid-Atlantic in Virginia. “Whether people are hitting the road to share the holiday with friends and family, or planning a more elaborate vacation, there is little discouraging them from getting away.”
“Nationwide, drivers could see travel times up to 20 percent longer this holiday season. In major metros, especially in Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington, DC, drivers could experience nearly double the typical delays,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX.
AAA said the best time to travel on December 23 will be before 10 a.m. since the worst of the traffic will hit the road between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Minimal traffic impacts are expected Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. It’s recommended that you get on the road before noon on December 26 through December 30.
The auto club predicts this will be the second busiest 10-day Christmas season, right behind 2019 when 108 million drove to their destinations. This year, gas prices remain about the same or less than last year.
Hopping on a Flight
The number of people traveling by plane is projected to be 7.5 million, which is more than 2019’s record of 7.3 million passengers.
AAA Mid-Atlantic in Virginia said more than 178,000 Virginians — the highest number at year’s end in 19 years — are expected to fly for the holidays. That number is up more than 4 percent from 2022.
AAA recommends reserving a parking spot at the airport ahead of time, removing anything valuable from your car, and taking a photo of where you park so don’t forget where it is.
This year’s most popular domestic spots people plan to fly to are Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California. International destinations that are popular are London and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Feature image, stock.adobe.com
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