Holiday travel expected to rebound from last year with millions of people traveling

LELAND, NC (WWAY) —Millions across the country are hitting the roads to see friends and family for the holidays, with experts expecting travel to rebound after last year’s decline.

This holiday season, AAA estimates more than 3.1 million across the state will travel between December 23 and January 2. Although numbers are still down from pre-pandemic levels, the estimate is up 35% from last year.

One man said he is driving to Florida, and thinks traffic will be hectic with more people eager to travel.

“Because they all got stuck at home, the last few years you haven’t been around your families during Christmas. It’s just nice to get out of town, and get away for a little bit,” said Steven Hawley, traveler.

Another man said he will be traveling to Sanford and Raleigh this holiday weekend, but will split his travel days into two, hoping to avoid traffic.

“I’m not traveling like, –in one day, you know what I mean. I’m just doing one, then rest up, and go back to Raleigh, North Carolina,” said Edward McCormick, traveler.

Much like other drivers who are hoping to reduce their chances of running into traffic this time of year, if it can be helped.

“I know the roads going to be like super busy, I’m going to try to stay off as much as possible, and just try to stay safe,” said Rachel Daniels, resident.

With more people expected to travel this year for the holidays, AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said the omicron variant could still impact the number of people estimated to travel for the holidays.

“This travel forecast was developed before the Omicron variant was detected. So, we could see fewer numbers than anticipated, but even still because of the vaccine we do anticipate a very strong rebound compared to last year,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman.

Jenkins also offered tips on what to expect when getting on the road Christmas weekend through January 2.

“A lot of the congestion building up late in the later afternoon and early evening hours. So, please leave early if you can, identify alternate routes, and just allow yourself extra time to get to your destination,” said Jenkins.

AAA’S forecast for this year’s holiday travel says road trips are still the preferred mode of travel during the holidays, with 91% of travelers planning to drive to their destinations, even with gas prices being up a $1.12 more than a year ago.

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