1 in 3 Americans will travel this holiday season, the most on record

Stock image | Photo by estherpoon/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — AAA projects a record-breaking 112.5 million Americans will travel this holiday season, meaning more than one-third of all Americans will take to the nation’s roads and skies later this month. That’s a 4.4 percent increase over last year and the most since AAA started tracking holiday travel.

“This is projected to be the busiest holiday travel season in our country’s history,” AAA Utah spokesman Michael Blasky said in a news release issued by AAA.

“There will be almost 5 million more people traveling in 2018 compared with last year,” Blasky said. “This continues a nationwide trend of holiday travel growth over the last decade, driven by low unemployment and rising incomes, as well as stable prices for goods and services.”

AAA’s 2018 holiday travel forecast

  • Hitting the road: The vast majority of people – more than 102 million – will hit the road between Saturday and Jan. 1, an increase of 4.4 percent over last year’s traffic. Utah gas prices have fallen in recent weeks, with a statewide average of $2.81 as of Dec. 10, 33-cents more than a year ago.
  • Fuller skies: More than 6.7 million Americans will take flight, up about 4.2 percent from last year. Expect the nation’s airports to be extremely busy. This is AAA’s highest-projected air travel forecast since 2003.
  • Car rental costs rising: Travelers can expect to pay the highest prices for car rentals in 10 years. The average daily of $76 rate is 3 percent higher than last year.

INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, expects drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion before the holiday week — starting Wednesday — as commuters and holiday travelers mix on our nation’s busiest roadways. Thursday will be the nation’s worst day to travel. Avoid traveling during peak commuting hours. If schedules allow, leave bright and early, or after the morning commute.

This holiday season, Dec. 22-23 and Dec. 26 will be the busiest days in the skies and at the airports.

“In most cases, the lightest days to travel will be on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve,” Blasky said. “Travelers should expect busy, crowded airports, and should be prepared to arrive at least two hours before their departure.”

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