From hitting the highway to taking to the skies, millions of area residents are heading over the river, through the woods to grandma’s house for the holiday season.
AAA Mid-Atlantic says more than 2.2 million Washingtonians will leave town between now and the New Year. That’s almost half of the Metro area population and up about 1.5 percent from last year.
“With the luxury of vacation time, more disposable income than their counterparts across the nation … Washingtonians will be traveling during the Christmas and New Year holidays in the highest travel volume in a decade,” AAA’s John Townsend II said. “That means every square inch on the highways and every ramp and exit on the roadways will be jammed, the three area airports will be crowded, nearly every available seat on airplanes will be filled to capacity, and virtually every coach seat in every coach car on the rails will be occupied by holiday travelers.”
That means if you are spending the day packing the car, you are not alone. More than 91 percent of those traveling in our area are driving to their destination. That despite the highest gas prices during the Christmas season in history. The nationwide average is $3.20 for regular, up about $0.22 from last year. And if possible, avoid driving on Friday and Saturday of this week. They are expected to be the worst days for gridlock on the roads.
Meanwhile, airports and planes will still be crowded despite a drop in air travel this season, according to AAA. About 125,000 local residents are expected to use Reagan, Dulles and BWI airports, down almost 11 percent from last year. Higher ticket prices and fees mean fewer flyers. But fewer planes mean more crowded flights.
And if you can still choose when to fly, try to not travel December 21-23, December 26-30 and January 2 and 3. Those are expected to be the busiest for travel during the holiday season.
Nationally, more than 91.9 million people are expected to travel at least 50 miles.