Holiday travel in 2022 expected to be third busiest on record, AAA forecasts

Holiday travel in 2022 expected to be third busiest on record, AAA forecasts

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This year is expected to be the third-busiest year for holiday travel since 2000, according to AAA.

The organization, which started tracking the data in 2000, said that it estimates 112.7 million people will travel 50 miles or more away from home during the period starting on Dec. 23 and ending on Jan. 2.

The number, it said, marks an increase of 3.6 million people over last year – closing in on pre-pandemic numbers. 

Nearly 102 million Americans will drive to holiday destinations, up 2 million from the prior year.

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Holiday decorations at Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, U.S., on Friday, Dec. 24, 2021.  (Photographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

That number is shy of 2019, when 108 million Americans drove out of town for the season. 

Air travel will see a 14% increase over last year, with almost 7.2 million Americans expected to fly. 

Despite higher airline ticket prices, the demand for flights has surged, and AAA said it expects the number of people flying for the holidays to come close to 2019.

Travelers wait in line to check-in at LaGuardia Airport in New York, on December 24, 2021.  ((Photo by YUKI IWAMURA/AFP via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

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Bus, rail and cruise ship travel is also forecast to rise to 3.6 million – a 23% uptick from last year and nearly 94% of 2019’s volume.

A traveler sits next to a Christmas tree looking out the window while waiting for ground transportation at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California, on Dec. 21, 2021.  ((Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

"This year, travel time will be extended due to Christmas Day and New Year’s Day falling on Sundays," Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel, said in a statement. "With hybrid work schedules, we are seeing more people take long weekends to travel because they can work remotely at their destination and be more flexible with the days they depart and return."

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In the same release, analytics provider INRIX said it expects the most congested driving days to be the Friday before Christmas, Dec. 27, Dec. 28 and Jan. 2.

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