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PHOTO: Festival of Lights at the Washington DC Temple in Kensington, Maryland. (photo via PBallay/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
As people prepare for the holiday season, AAA is forecasting a record-breaking 112.5 million travelers will take to the nation’s runways, roads and rails during the year-end holidays.
The estimated 112.5 million travelers would represent a 4.4 percent increase over last year and the most since AAA has been tracking holiday travel.
In total, more than 102 million people who will pack up their cars for the 11-day, year-end holiday travel period between December 22 and January 1, 2019, a 4.4 percent increase from last year.
Another 6.7 million people will fly to their destinations this year, a 4.2 percent increase and the highest number in 15 years. As for those traveling on a train, bus or cruise ship, a total of 3.7 million passengers will be utilizing these other means of transportation.
“’Tis the season for holiday travel, and more Americans than ever will journey to spend time with friends and family or choose to take a vacation,” AAA Travel managing director Bryan Shilling said. “Strong economic growth fueled by robust consumer spending continues to drive strong demand for seasonal travel. With a record-breaking one-third of the country choosing to travel this holiday, roadways and airports are sure to be busy.”
Driving this year could be a headache, as the most congestion on the roads will come before the holiday week, starting on December 19. Drivers in Atlanta, New York City, Boston and Houston will see travel times more than three times a normal trip.
As for fuel prices, a recent drop resulted in the cheapest national gas price averages of the year at $2.46 for the first week of December, which is two cents per gallon less than one year ago.
For those looking to avoid the busiest travel times at the airport, December 22, December 23 and December 26 will be the most congested days in the skies, while Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the lightest travel days around the holidays.
Daily rates for car rentals have increased three percent over the last year, averaging $76 per day, making it the most expensive rate of the last 10 years. On the other hand, the average price of a AAA Three Diamond hotel fell three percent.
AAA also provided a list of the top 10 most popular holiday destinations, including:
1. Orlando, Florida
2. Cancun, Mexico
3. Anaheim, California (Disneyland)
4. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
5. Montego Bay, Jamaica
6. Honolulu, Hawaii
7. New York, New York
8. Kahului, Hawaii (Maui)
9. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
10. Miami, Florida
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