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More holiday travelers expected than ever before

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Holiday Travel for Web

(WKOW) -- More Americans will travel this holiday season than ever before, according to the American Automobile Association.

AAA said 115.6 million travelers will break records Sunday, Dec. 21 through Wednesday, Jan. 1. That's the most in nearly 20 years, since AAA began tracking in 2000.

“Holiday cheer is at an all-time high this year, with unemployment at historically low levels, and noted improvements in both disposable income and household net worth,” said Nick Jarmusz, Director of Public Affairs for AAA. “Travelers should be getting used to crowded highways and airports, as this marks the eighth straight year of new record-high travel volumes for the year-end holidays.”

  • Automobiles: 104.8 million Americans, the most on record, will drive to their holiday destinations. That means 3.9 million more people are expected on the roads compared with last year, for an increase of 3.9%.
  • Planes: With 4.9% growth, air travel will see the biggest increase in travel volume during the year-end holidays, with 6.97 million Americans expected to fly – the most since 2003.
  • Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel by these other modes will reach 3.81 million, 3% more than last year.

The auto group also looked at the work day to travel in big cities, including Chicago.

CityWorst Day to TravelPeak congestion periodDelay Multiplier
AtlantaThursday, Dec. 264:30 - 6:30 PM1.3x
BostonFriday, Dec. 274:00 - 6:00 PM1.5x
ChicagoThursday, Dec. 264:45 - 6:45 PM1.3x
DetroitThursday, Dec. 264:30 - 6:30 PM1.4x
HoustonFriday, Dec. 274:30 - 6:30 PM1.8x
Los AngelesThursday, Dec. 264:25 - 6:25 PM1.6x
New YorkThursday, Dec. 264:15 - 6:15 PM2.7x
San FranciscoThursday, Dec. 264:00 - 6:00 PM2.0x
SeattleFriday, Dec. 274:15 - 6:15 PM1.2x
Washington, D.C.Thursday, Dec. 264:00 - 6:00 PM3.0x

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. 

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