With 4.3 million more Americans traveling this year, INRIX predicts double drive times

12 December 2019

AAA Says 115.6 Million Travelers will Break Holiday Records



Montrae Waiters, AAA spokeswoman, The Auto Club Group,
Cell (813) 244-0815 



AAA Says 115.6 Million Travelers will Break Holiday Records

With 4.3 million more Americans traveling this year, INRIX predicts double drive times

ATLANTA, Ga. (December 12, 2019) — More Americans than ever on record – 115.6 million – will travel this holiday season, from Sunday, Dec. 21 through Wednesday, Jan. 1. That is the most in nearly 20 years since AAA began tracking in 2000, and represents an increase of 3.9% over last year. This means that 4.3 million more people packing up their sleighs for a holiday getaway. More than 104 million of these holiday travelers will drive to their destinations and, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects delays to be the worst on Thursday, Dec. 26, with afternoon delays reaching nearly double congestion-free drive times in major U.S. cities.

“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 Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “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.”

By the numbers: 2019 Year-End Holiday Travel

Total numbers of travelers:

  • National: 115.6 million travelers
  • Georgia: 3,409,334 travelers

Automobiles: More Americans than ever on record will drive this holiday season.

  • National: 104.8 million; 3.9% more than last year.
  • Georgia: 3,096,267; 3.7% increase over last year.


  • National: 6.97 million people will take to the skies, the highest number on record since 2003; 4.9% more than last year.
  • Georgia: 186,799 Georgians will travel by air, a 4.0% increase over last year.

Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships:

  • National: 3% increase to 3.81 million passengers
  • Georgia: 3.8% increase to 126,269 passengers

Rushing home for the holidays

For the 104.8 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts only marginal delays throughout the holiday week. Nationally, drivers could experience double the travel times on Thursday and Friday afternoon, although New York City and Washington, D.C. could see triple the delays.

“With kids out of school and many Americans taking extended time off for the holidays, drivers will experience only incremental delays throughout the week. Although congestion will be lighter than normal, knowing when and where major delays will likely happen will help save time and reduce stress this holiday season,” says Trevor Reed, a transportation analyst at INRIX.


Worst Day to Travel

Peak congestion period

Delay Multiplier


Thursday, Dec. 26

4:30 - 6:30 PM



Friday, Dec. 27

4:00 - 6:00 PM



Thursday, Dec. 26

4:45 - 6:45 PM



Thursday, Dec. 26

4:30 - 6:30 PM



Friday, Dec. 27

4:30 - 6:30 PM


Los Angeles

Thursday, Dec. 26

4:25 - 6:25 PM


New York

Thursday, Dec. 26

4:15 - 6:15 PM


San Francisco

Thursday, Dec. 26

4:00 - 6:00 PM



Friday, Dec. 27

4:15 - 6:15 PM


Washington, D.C.

Thursday, Dec. 26

4:00 - 6:00 PM


Source: INRIX

The holidays can be a stressful time; AAA encourages drivers to maintain a cool head, and focus on reaching their destination safely. AAA offers these tips to help prevent road rage:

  • Do Not Offend: Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction. That means not forcing another driver to use their brakes, or turn the steering wheel in response to something you have done.

  • Be Tolerant and Forgiving: The other driver may just be having a really bad day. Assume that it is not personal.

  • Do Not Respond: Avoid eye contact, don’t make gestures, maintain space around your vehicle and contact 9-1-1 if needed.

Gas prices are expected to drop in time for the holidays, members can save even more with Shell

Gas prices steadily declined in November, paving the way for even cheaper prices for the year-end holidays. AAA expects most motorists to see gas prices drop before the new year, but will likely be slightly more expensive than last December’s national gas price average of $2.37.

As an added bonus for holiday road trippers, AAA members who register in the Fuel Rewards at Shell program through Dec. 31, 2019 can receive an additional 25 cents per gallon discount on their first fill up after registering as a new Fuel Rewards member, on top of the everyday 5-cent discount (30 cents total).

Real ID

Beginning October 1, 2020, a REAL ID compliant driver’s license, ID card, passport or an acceptable alternative ID approved by the TSA will be required to board a domestic commercial flight. AAA urges travelers to apply now for a REAL ID compliant driver’s license in preparation for the October 2020 Deadline. To apply for a REAL ID, Georgians  will need visit a participating Georgia Department of Driver Services- Real ID and bring supporting documentation including: one proof of citizenship or legal presence, one proof of full Social Security Number, and two proofs of Georgia residency along with documentation to support any name change from your proof of citizenship document. A full list of accepted documents can be found here.

Prepare for busy airports Dec. 21-23, steep flight prices Dec. 26

A recent analysis of AAA’s flight booking data revealed that most travelers depart two to four days prior to the Christmas holiday, Dec. 21-23, with the 22nd being the single busiest air travel day of the holiday week. These travelers, on average, pay ticket prices between $593 and $639. Christmas Eve is the best day to travel, with the lowest average price per ticket ($527) and the fewest crowds of the holiday week. Many travelers opt to fly after the Christmas holiday leading up to New Year’s, and they pay a premium to do so. Dec. 26 has the highest average ticket price of the week at $692.

Hotel prices fluctuate slightly; car rental rates reach 10-year high

Travelers will need to budget more for car rentals this holiday season. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, the daily average rental rate this Christmas and New Year’s will reach $84, 11% more than last year and the highest price in 10 years. AAA Three Diamond hotel prices have increased 1% to $153, while AAA Two Diamond hotels will average $119, 2% less than last year.

Theme parks, warm-weather destinations & NYC top holiday getaways

Theme parks in Orlando and southern California, other warm-weather locales, and the iconic holiday destination New York City top the list of 10 most popular destinations in the U.S. for the year-end holidays, based on advance AAA Travel bookings:

  1. Orlando, FL

  2. Anaheim, CA

  3. Honolulu, HI

  4. Kahului, Maui, HI

  5. Las Vegas, NV

  6. Ft. Lauderdale, FL

  7. New York, NY

  8. Miami, FL

  9. Tampa, FL

  10. Phoenix, AZ

Many travelers are also seeking warm weather and sandy beaches in Mexico and the Caribbean this holiday season. Cancun, Mexico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Los Cabos, Mexico; and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, are AAA’s top five international destinations for the year-end holidays.

AAA’s travel experts remind travelers that it’s not too late to begin planning a holiday getaway. Visit AAA.com/Travel for travel planning resources to book your trip today.


AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. For the purposes of this forecast, the year-end holiday travel period is defined as the 12-day period from Saturday, Dec. 21 to Wednesday, Jan. 1.

In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes, using macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays.

About INRIX:

INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

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About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, insurance, financial services and travel offerings to over 9.9 million members across eleven states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 60 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. Visit AAA on the Internet at AAA.com.