AAA: Florida residents to travel in record numbers for Christmas, New Years

Florida – Monday, December 18, 2023: AAA predicts a record 6.6 million Floridians will travel 50 miles or more during the upcoming year-end holiday travel period* beginning December 23rd until January 1St.

Auto Club Group expects nearly 218,000 (3.4%) more travelers to Florida than last year (the previous record), which does not include visitors from out of state.

“AAA has seen solid year-over-year growth in travel demand, culminating in what is expected to be Florida’s busiest year-end vacation travel season and the second busiest nationwide,” said Debbie Haas, vice president of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Despite various inflationary pressures, Americans are still willing to shell out for travel.” With record numbers of passengers, roads, airports and cruise lines will be more crowded than normal. So finalize your travel plans now, anticipate longer queues and give yourself extra time to reach your destination.”

National travel figures

A total of 115.2 million passengers

  • 2nd highest ever (2019)
  • 2.5 million more than last year

103.6 million car commuters

  • 2nd highest ever (2019)
  • 1.8 million more than last year

7.5 million air passengers

  • Record high
  • 336,000 more than last year

4 million passengers by other modes of transport (bus, train, cruise)

  • Most travelers since 2008
  • 5th place in history
  • 394,000 more than last year

AAA is expecting a record number of Florida drivers

AAA expects road travel to reach an all-time high. More than 6 million people will drive to their vacation destinations, an increase of 181,000 compared to 2022. As 2023 approaches, drivers can expect to pay about the same or less for a gallon of gas than last year holiday season, when the Florida average on Christmas and New Year’s was $2.99 ​​and $3.24, respectively.

Air travel soars to new record highs nationwide; Second highest in Florida

Airports are expected to be at their busiest ever during the Christmas and New Year travel period. Nationally, AAA projects 7.5 million air travelers. That’s 200,000 more than the previous record set in 2019.

Meanwhile, nearly 357,000 Florida residents are expected to take a commercial flight. Although this is 15,000 more than last year, it is the second highest air travel volume on record after 2003 (399,000).

Average ticket prices are slightly lower than last year. According to AAA booking data, the average price for a round-trip ticket to Orlando this holiday season is $613, down from $735 last year.

“AAA recommends booking flights as early as possible to ensure the best combination of price and availability,” Haas said. “Those who wait until the last minute could catch a discount, but may have fewer options in terms of direct flights and seat availability. Whenever you book, it’s important to consider travel insurance.’

“It seems like every year around this time we hear about winter weather causing widespread cancellations or delays,” Haas continued. “This is another reason why we encourage travelers to take out travel insurance which offers protection for covered costs associated with canceled flights, lost luggage and flights delayed by at least three hours.”

The number of people traveling by other modes of transportation, such as bus, train and cruise, is projected to surpass 2019. AAA expects more than 4 million Americans to use alternative transportation over Christmas and New Year’s, compared to 3.66 million in 2022 . and 3.89 million in 2019. Demand for cruises has risen sharply since the pandemic, and now the industry is preparing for the wave of bookings that traditionally occurs at the beginning of the new year.

“Sophisticated travelers know that right after the holidays is the best time to book a cruise,” Haas said. “Then cruise lines offer some of the best deals, and AAA members get exclusive benefits on top of those discounts.”

Best/worst driving times

INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, says there will be several days of potentially bad traffic during the 10-day holiday period. Saturday, December 23 and Thursday, December 28 will be the busiest days on the road. INRIX also says that Saturday, December 30, when many people will be returning home from their holiday destinations or traveling for New Year’s Eve, traffic will increase compared to a normal Saturday. The best time to set off is before noon or after 7 p.m.

“Across the country, drivers could see travel times up to 20% longer this holiday season. In major metro areas, particularly in Denver, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., drivers can experience nearly double the typical delays,” said Bob Pishu, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Avoid rush hour commutes and use traffic apps, local DOT alerts and 511 services to minimize traffic frustration during holiday travel.”

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