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Christine Delise
Sr. Public Relations Specialist, MD
O: (410) 616-1900 (ext. 4361153)
C: (443) 244-7253

‘Tis the season to traditionally spend with family and friends and this year Americans are traveling in record numbers. AAA forecasts 107.3 million Americans will take to planes, trains, automobiles and other modes of transportation during the year-end holiday period from Saturday, December 23 through Monday, January 1. This will be the highest year-end travel volume on record and a 3.1 percent increase in travel volume compared with last year. 2017 marks the ninth consecutive year of rising year-end holiday travel. Since 2005, total year-end holiday travel volume has grown by 21.6 million, an increase of more than 25 percent.


“Once again, more Americans are making plans for another holiday getaway,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic. “In fact, across the board this year, travel has increased for every major holiday weekend. Year over year, we have seen increases in Memorial Day, Independence Day, as well as Thanksgiving travel, and we project the same for the year-end holiday period.”  “A strong economy and growing consumer confidence have fueled holiday travel all year long,” Averella added.


For the 97.4 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, in collaboration with AAA, predicts travel times during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the normal trip.


By the Numbers: 2017 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast

  • Automobiles: The majority of travelers - 97.4 million - will hit the road (a 3 percent year-over-year increase).

  • Planes: 6.4 million people will travel by air, a 4.1 percent increase and the fourth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.

  • Trains, Buses, Rails and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 2.2 percent to 3.6 million.


Holiday Headache Hotspots

Based on historical and recent travel trends, INRIX expects drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion before the holiday week – on Wednesday, December 20 and Thursday, December 21 – in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. For example, drivers in New York City could see travel times peak at three times a normal trip between 3:30 and 5:30pm.


“With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in major metros,” says Dr. Graham Cookson, chief economist & head of research at INRIX. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak times altogether or consider alternative routes.”


Worst Days/Times to Travel

Metro Area

Worst Day for Travel

Worst Time for Travel

Delay Multiplier

New York, NY

Wednesday, Dec. 20

3:30 - 5:30 PM


Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, Dec. 20

3:30 - 6:00 PM


Washington, DC

Thursday, Dec. 21

3:00 - 6:00 PM


San Francisco, CA

Wednesday, Dec. 20

3:00 - 5:30 PM


Chicago, IL

Thursday, Dec. 21

4:00 - 6:00 PM


Boston, MA

Thursday, Dec. 21

2:30 - 4:30 PM


Seattle, WA

Thursday, Dec. 20

4:00 - 6:00 PM


Atlanta, GA

Thursday, Dec. 21

4:30 - 6:30 PM


Houston, TX

Wednesday, Dec. 20

5:30 - 7:30 PM


Detroit, MI

Thursday, Dec. 21

3:00 - 5:30 PM

































Source: INRIX



Travel Tip: Try to avoid traveling through major cities during peak travel times. The best times to leave are typically early morning or after the morning commute because the roads should be less crowded and you will have more time to get to your destination safely. If your schedule permits, traveling on the holiday itself often results in fewer cars on the road.


Pricey Pump Prices to Decrease

The 91 percent of holiday travelers choosing to drive will find the most expensive year-end gas prices since 2014. This December’s national average price for regular gasoline is $2.47 per gallon, which is 27 cents more than last December (Dec. 1-14). The good news is that AAA does expect the average to drop at least another five cents by year-end, saving motorists a few pennies at the pump.


Today’s national average is $2.45 per gallon, which is three cents less than last week but 22 cents more than last year’s price on this date.


Airfare and Hotel Rates Trend Cheaper, Car Rentals Increase Year-Over-Year

Holiday airfares are nearly 20 percent cheaper than last year. At $165, the average end of year holiday airfare for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes is at a five-year low, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. On average, 2017 airfares are five percent less expensive compared to 2016. Overall, competition, capacity over-expansion and lower oil prices are contributing to the decline.


Travelers can also find savings at AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated hotels. On average, a Three Diamond hotel nightly rate is $156, a two percent year-over year decrease. The Two Diamond nightly average rate is $121, a five percent decrease from last year.


Similar to Thanksgiving, car rental rates are more expensive on the year. At $74, the daily car rental rate increased 11 percent. This sets a new five-year record high rate for year-end holiday travel. The increase is on par with the rate increases seen at Thanksgiving.


Top 10 Year-End Holiday Travel Destinations

For a second year, Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, top this year’s top 10 holiday destinations based on bookings nationwide. Warmer weather destinations reign supreme in winter months with Cancun, Kahului (Maui) and Montego Bay gaining in popularity as holiday spots compared to last year. 

  1. Orlando, Fla.

  2. Anaheim, Calif.

  3. Cancun, Mexico

  4. Honolulu, Hawaii

  5. Kahului (Maui), Hawaii

  6. Montego Bay, Jamaica

  7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

  8. Miami, Fla.

  9. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

  10. New York, N.Y.

Travel Tip: Airports will be busy and security lines may be longer than usual around the holidays. Travelers should plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to the scheduled departure of their flight. During peak travel times, contact your airline for guidance, as it may be necessary to arrive even earlier. This time of year, travelers need to also be aware of potential weather delays. Make sure to check flight status regularly before traveling to the airport. To expedite travel, AAA recommends enrolling in programs such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. 



Lockouts, Flat Tires to Strand Nearly One Million Motorists

The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations, and AAA expects to rescue nearly one million (901,600) motorists nationwide.  Car battery-related issues, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA is called for roadside assistance over the holidays. For members in need of roadside assistance, download the AAA Mobile app, visit or call 1-800-AAA-HELP. For added convenience, Wazers can now request AAA roadside assistance directly from the Waze app by tapping the Report menu. 

Before hitting the road, motorists are advised to make sure their vehicle is road-trip ready. Drivers should have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America or at one of AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Car Care Centers, including eleven locations in Maryland.


In case of an emergency, be prepared by keeping a cell phone and charger with you at all times. Carry a winter emergency kit that includes a flashlight, extra batteries, warning devices such as flares or reflective triangles, blankets, snow brush and ice scraper, sand or kitty litter or traction mats, window-washing fluid, jumper cables, a first-aid kit, water and non-perishable snacks.


Travel Tip: Get plenty of rest before setting out on a holiday road trip and schedule breaks every two hours or 100 miles to remain alert and avoid driving drowsy. Also, be aware of the dangers of driving distracted. Drivers should designate a passenger to serve as their official text messenger and navigator.


Download the AAA Mobile App Before Your Holiday Getaway

Before setting out for their holiday trip, travelers can download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android at travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, and search for AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities, while AAA members can access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, and request AAA roadside assistance, as well.


With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA has the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Inspected & Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.


About the AAA Travel Forecast:

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 year-end holiday travel forecast is available here.


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Mailing Address:
8600 LaSalle Road, Ste 639
Towson, MD 21286

AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than 937,000 members in Maryland.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information, visit

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