by Donald Wood
Last updated: 8:00 AM ET, Mon December 12, 2022
A new study found that over 112 million Americans will hit the road during the 2022 winter holiday travel period.
According to AAA Travel, 112.7 million people will journey 50 miles or more away from home from December 23 to January 2, an increase of 3.6 million people compared to last year. The 2022 totals are expected to be the third busiest since AAA began tracking in 2000.
The survey also found that 102 million Americans will drive to their destinations, an increase of over two million people on the roads. Travel by car in 2022 is on par with 2018 totals, but shy of the 2019 record, when 108 million Americans drove out of town for the holidays.
"This year, travel time will be extended due to Christmas Day and New Year's Day falling on Sundays," AAA Senior Vice President Paula Twidale said. "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."
Air travel will see a 14 percent increase over last year, with nearly 7.2 million Americans expected to fly during the winter holiday travel period. AAA expects the number of people taking flights this year will almost match 2019 totals, when 7.3 million Americans traveled by air.
As for other modes of transportation, the study found that travel by bus, rail and cruise ship will rise to 3.6 million this holiday season, a 23 percent increase from last year and nearly 94 percent of 2019's volume.
Data also showed the most congested days on the road will be Friday before Christmas, December 27 and 28, and on Monday, January 2, as travelers mix with commuters.
"If the distance is not reasonable to drive, more people are taking to the air to maximize the time spent at their destination," Twidale continued. "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, rent a car, and spend too much money before the fun even begins."
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