NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — It’s the season of travel, and AAA guesses that 112.7 million Americans are going to travel 50 miles or more for the holidays.
According to a news release, the year-end holiday travel time is an 11-day period from December 23 to January 2, all the year-end holiday periods consist of two weekends.
“Despite inflationary pressures, consumers remain resilient and dedicated to travel this year, and the holidays will be no different,” said Debbie Haas, vice president of Travel for AAA. “Americans are spending more on travel than any other time in the past two years. The good news is the cost for a holiday road trip will be less expensive than anticipated, now that gas prices are on the way down.”
90% of travelers drive to their destinations.
Air travel will increase by 14% since last year. Flights and airports are going to be packed this season, and the demand for flights has increased despite the increase in ticket prices.
“If the distance is not reasonable to drive, more people are flying to maximize the time spent at their destination,” Haas added. “Conversely, if the travel distances are reasonable and more than one or two people in the household are taking the trip, it may be more cost-effective to drive rather than buy multiple air tickets and rent a car.”
Other modes of transportation are also increasing, especially travel by bus, rail, and cruise ship.
Those that are taking a road trip are getting an early gift of lower gas prices. The average statewide price is sitting just above $3 per gallon.
“Since most Americans have already made their holiday travel plans, gas savings likely won’t lead to more auto travelers,” said Gene LaDoucer, regional director for AAA. “They may, however, provide additional funds for gifts or activities during the holiday.”
Drivers need to be prepared for delays, as travel times may increase. The worst time to travel is going to be the Friday before Christmas, December 27 and 28, and January 2.
Leave early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid sitting in traffic.
Advice for auto travelers:
- Leave early
- Watch for weather
- Don’t drive distracted
- Slow down
- Wear the seat belt
- Don’t drive impaired
Almost 900,000 people will need roadside assistance during the holiday travel period. Mostly for dead batteries, flat tires, and lockouts.
Being stuck on the road can be dangerous, so help others out by moving over and slowing down for first responders, tow trucks, and disabled vehicles.
“Whether it’s a tow truck or a disabled vehicle, when you see flashing lights please move over,” said LaDoucer. “We want to make sure all holiday travelers, tow truck drivers, and first responders make it home safely for the holidays.”
Strong demand is going to create long lines at airports, but the winter is always a wild card. Getting re-booked can be difficult when there are delays and cancellations.
“If you plan on flying this time of year, travel insurance can be extremely valuable for air travelers,” Haas said. “There are policies that can provide compensation for flight delays for as little as three hours. And if your flight is canceled, passengers can receive compensation for covered out-of-pocket expenses.”
Other air travel tips
- Check-in early
- Monitor flight statuses
- Arrive two to three hours before
- Pack medications and extra clothes in your carry-on
- If you haven’t booked yet:
- Book one that leaves early in the day
- Book a direct flight
- Consider traveling on Christmas day