AAA Forecasts Record-Setting 3.5 Million Georgians To Travel for Year-End Holidays

Staff Report

Wednesday, December 14th, 2022

Tis the season to travel, and AAA estimates over 3.5 million Georgians will journey 50 miles or more away from home, December 23rd to January 2nd. That’s an increase of almost 113,000 people over last year and a new record-high for the year-end holiday travel period in Georgia.National travel figures are also stronger than 2021, yet slightly lower than per-pandemic levels. An estimated 112.7 million Americans are forecast to travel during for the year-end holidays. That’s an increase of 3.6 million people compared to last year and the third busiest since AAA began tracking in 2000. View all National travel figures in the full holiday travel report.

“Despite inflationary pressures, consumers remained resilient and dedicated to travel this year. The holidays also benefit from the desire to reconnect with loved ones,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Travelers are spending more on travel than any other time in the past two years. The good news is the cost for a holiday road trip will be less expensive than anticipated, now that gas prices are on the way down.”

Automobiles, Planes, Trains, and Cruises

Nationwide, 90% of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations. In Georgia, 3.2 million residents will take at least one holiday road trip. That’s over 66,000 more than last year and a 1% increase from 2019.

Air travel will see a 14% increase over last year, with nearly 7.2 million Americans expected to fly. Flights and airports will be packed this holiday season, reminiscent of pre-pandemic days. Demand for flights has surged despite higher airline ticket prices. AAA expects the number of people taking holiday flights this year will come close to matching 2019 when 7.3 million Americans traveled by air.

“If the distance is not reasonable to drive, more people are taking to the air to maximize the time spent at their destination,” Haas adds. “Conversely, if the travel distances are reasonable and more than one or two people in the household are taking the trip, it may be more cost-effective to drive rather than buy multiple air tickets and rent a car.”

Other modes of transportation are also rebounding in a big way. AAA estimates travel by bus, rail, and cruise ship will rise to 3.6 million this holiday season, a 23% increase from last year and nearly 94% of 2019’s volume.

Gas Prices are Falling Fast

Holiday road trippers are getting the early gift of plunging prices at the pump. On Sunday, the average price for gasoline in Georgia was $2.88 per gallon. That is 27 cents per gallon less than a year ago.

“Since most Americans have already made their holiday travel plans, these plunging pump prices may not necessarily lead to more auto travelers,” said Montrae Waiters, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “What we often see instead is consumers reallocating the added savings; spending more on hotels, shopping and dining out.”

Hotel and Airfares are Slightly Higher than 2021; Car Rental Rates are Cheaper

  • Airfares cost 6% more than last year
    • The lowest round trip airfare costs $163 vs $154 in 2021
  • Hotels cost 5% more than 2021
    • A mid-range AAA Three Diamond property costs $167 per night vs $160 last year
  • Car Rentals cost 19% less
    • The average daily rate is $105 vs $130 last year
  • View AAA's Leisure Travel Index for a full breakdown on pricing

Busiest Corridors and Best/Worst Times to Travel

Drivers should prepare for delays, particularly in and around major metro areas. Nationwide, drivers could see travel times increase by 25%, according to INRIX, a provider of transportation analytics and insights. The most congested days on the road are forecast to be Friday before Christmas, December 27th and 28th, and on Monday, January 2nd. INRIX predicts the single busiest travel daywill be Tuesday, December 27th. The best advice for avoiding congestion is leave early in the morning or later in the evening.