Holiday Travel
With one in three Americans planning on traveling during the holiday season, year-end 2018 will be the busiest travel season on record. Passengers wait in the South Terminal building at London Gatwick Airport after flights resumed today on Dec. 21, 2018, in London. Getty Images/Jack Taylor

With one-in-three Americans planning on traveling somewhere this holiday season, AAA said this is the busiest travel time it has seen since it has been tracking holiday travel. According to the organization, a record-breaking 112.5 million travelers will hit the roads, fly the air, and take to the rails this holiday, showing a 4.4. percent increase in travelers over last year.

For travelers looking to drive to their destination, they may experience some significant delays as INRIX, a mobile analytics company, reported that it could take up to four times longer than normal in some congested cities. A total of 102.1 million people are expected to travel by car during the year-end holiday season, up 4.4 percent from last year at the same time, according to AAA.

The organization also reported that 6.7 million people will be flying this year, which is the highest level of travelers in the air in 15 years; a 4.2 percent increase over last year.

Trains, buses, and cruise ships are not out the running either as 3.7 million passengers will board these vehicles and vessels; up 4 percent over last year.

"'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," Bryan Shilling, managing director, AAA Travel products and services, 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.”

The greatest congestion for travel began on Wednesday, with the most congested cities in the U.S., including Atlanta, New York City, Boston, and Houston, according to INRIX data.

“With a record-level number of travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in major metro areas – with Thursday, December 20 being the nation’s worst day to travel,” Trevor Reed, a transportation analyst at INRIX said. “Our advice is to avoid traveling during peak commuting hours. If schedules allow, leave bright and early, or after the morning commute.”

The increase in travel is motivated by low gas prices and an increase in disposable income for many Americans, AAA said.

The organization did suggest that flying on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day would help avoid the crush of the busy travel season.