AAA predicts 109 million will travel for holiday

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Americans who had to cancel getaways and get-togethers last year because of the pandemic are making up for lost time this holiday season.

More than 109 million people — an almost 34% increase from 2020 — will travel 50 miles or more as they hit the road, board airplanes or take other transportation out of town between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, according to the AAA.

That dramatic bounce-back — 27.7 million more people traveling — will bring this year’s numbers to 92% of 2019 levels. Airlines will see a 184% increase from last year.

“Americans who canceled their vacations in 2020 want to gather with family and friends for the holidays this year, although they will still be mindful of the pandemic and the new omicron variant,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said.

“With vaccines widely available, conditions are much different and many people feel a greater level of comfort with travel.”

Traffic volume data was derived from the corresponding holiday weeks in 2019 and 2020 as well as a 10-week period between September and November 2021.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is predicting light to moderate travel on the interstates this year.

Penny Brooks, the communications officer for the West Central Region of GDOT, said that Dec. 23 will be the most highly trafficked time this week with next Tuesday, Dec. 28, following for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

“Pretty much all of [traveling times] from this time to next week will fairly decent as far traffic volumes go,” Brooks said.

“We’re expecting a little bit of congestion on Dec. 30 as most people head back to work. Some people may have [New Year’s Day] off, some people may not.”

AAA urges anyone considering gathering or traveling for the holidays to consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. It’s essential to know requirements and recommendations based on your vaccination status, where you’re traveling from and your destination.

Masks are still required for everyone on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of U.S. public transportation and within transportation hubs such as airports and stations.

The CDC also recommends everyone wear a mask indoors in public places in an area of substantial or high transmission.

AAA estimated the worst time to travel in Atlanta being Wednesday afternoon during normal rush hour times.

Other things to consider:

4Travel insurance — AAA highly recommends travel insurance to cover unexpected delays or trip interruptions. It is best to consult the expertise of a travel advisor who can guide you on the coverage options available for your specific trip, including if your destination requires visitors to carry travel insurance.

4Clean accommodations — When booking a place to stay, AAA recommends looking for accommodations that prioritize cleanliness and have implemented additional housekeeping standards since the start of the pandemic.

4Domestic and international travel guidelines — When traveling within the U.S., fully vaccinated travelers do not need a negative viral test or to self-quarantine. For international travel, all air passengers, regardless of vaccination status or nationality, must show a negative COVID-19 viral test result taken no more than one day before travel into the U.S.