Holiday travel expected to shatter records across U.S.

Holiday travel expected to shatter records across U.S.

Traveling for the Christmas holiday? You aren’t alone: The number of people heading to destinations by plane, train or automobile in the U.S. is expected to be a record-shattering 107 million in 2017.


The travel forecast from AAA, which is based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit of London, projects that 97.4 million nationwide will be traveling by car, a 3 percent increase from 2016. Among the travelers will be an estimated 4.5 million New England residents, with 4 million traveling by car.

Lloyd Albert, senior vice president for AAA Northeast, said, “Across the board this year, travel has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend – Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving — and we project the same for the year-end holiday period. We’ve seen the strong economy and growing consumer confidence fuel holiday travel all year long.”

This will be the highest year-end travel volume on record and represents a 3.1 percent increase in travel volume compared with last year. According to AAA, 2017 is  the ninth consecutive year of rising year-end holiday travel. Since 2005, total year-end holiday travel volume has grown by 21.6 million, an increase of more than 25 percent.

With added travelers, however, comes traffic and delays. According to INRIX, a global transportation analytics company that works in collaboration with AAA, travel times during the week leading up to the Christmas holiday could be as much as three times longer than the normal trip.

Regional cities likely to be impacted by this increase includes Boston and New York City, according to INRIX. The company predicts the worst travel for Boston will occur on Thursday, Dec. 21, with delays nearly twice the usual travel time between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. In New York City, INRIX says expect the peak traffic will include delays three times the normal travel time, particularly on Wednesday, Dec. 20, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in major metros,” says Dr. Graham Cookson, chief economist and head of research at INRIX. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak times altogether or consider alternative routes.”

– Jason Vallee


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