VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — AAA estimates that more Americans will travel his holiday season than ever on record. 115.6 million people will travel from Sunday, December 21 through Wednesday, January 1.

AAA said that is the most in nearly 20 years since the organization started tracking traveler numbers in 2000. It shows an increase of 3.9 percent over last year, or 4.3 million more people will be going away this holiday season.

More than 104 million of those holiday travelers will drive to their destinations and, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects delays to be the worst on Thursday, Dec. 26, with afternoon delays reaching nearly double congestion-free drive times in major U.S. cities.

Over 3.1 million people in Virginia will be traveling this holiday season with 2.8 million taking to the roads. 

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“Holiday cheer is at an all-time high this year, with unemployment at historically low levels, and noted improvements in both disposable income and household net worth,” said Georjeane Blumling, vice president of public affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “Travelers are likely getting used to crowded highways and airports, as this marks the eighth straight year of new record-high travel volumes for the year-end holidays. They will need to pack patience along with the packages for the journey.” 

AAA predicts more Americans will drive this year than in previous years. Here's the break down of expected travelers and their form of transportation:

  • Automobiles: 104.8 million Americans, the most on record, will drive to their holiday destinations. That means 3.9 million more people are expected on the roads compared with last year, for an increase of 3.9%.
  • Planes: With 4.9% growth, air travel will see the biggest increase in travel volume during the year-end holidays, with 6.97 million Americans expected to fly – the most since 2003.
  • Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel by these other modes will reach 3.81 million, 3% more than last year.

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