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Number Of Travelers Expected To Increase In N.C. During Christmas Holiday

AAA forecasts 3.3 million North Carolinians will travel 50 miles or more from December 23 to January 2. That’s 134,000 more North Carolina travelers than last year. Nationally there will be a similar increase. AAA predicts 112.7 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday season, an increase of 3.6 million people compared to last year and the third busiest since AAA began tracking in 2000.

It’s estimated that 90% of holiday travelers will drive this year; AAA estimates 101.8 million people will hit the road for holiday, two 2 million more drivers than last year. In North Carolina, 3.1 million people will take a road trip. It’s an increase of 84,000 people from last year’s holiday, according to AAA. Gas prices have dropped in time for Christmas travel. The state average has declined 40 cents per gallon since November 10.

In addition to congestion on the roads, holiday travelers will likely find long lines at the airport too. Since last year, air travel is up nearly 14% nationally as 7.2 million Americans are expected to catch a flight for the holidays. The numbers will come close to matching 2019, when 7.3 million people traveled by air.

Flight delays and cancellations this time of year are a possibility. Winter weather, staffing challenges and strong demand are all reasons passengers might have difficulty flying. Strong demand will create long lines at airports, and with winter weather as a wild card, you can have a hard time getting re-booked in a hurry.

If you’re driving for holidays, leave early. Watch the weather and wear your seatbelt. Never drive distracted or impaired. Travelers are advised they should expect heavy congestion on the Friday before Christmas, December 27, December 28, and January 2. The busiest travel day is expected to be December 27.

Close to 900,000 drivers will need AAA roadside assistance on holiday travel days. The most common reasons are for dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends that drivers to get a full inspection before getting on the road to check everything from the tires, oil, air filters and wiper blades.