HOLIDAY TRAVEL UPDATE

Holiday travel is underway and here are a few things you should know. More Americans will travel by car this holiday season than ever before. The 102.1 million people expected to pack up their cars for road trips is 4.4 percent higher than last year. It is the most since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2001. The 6.7 million people who will travel by air this year is the highest level since in 15 years and is 4.2 percent more than last year. A record 45.7 million passengers are expected to fly on domestic airlines from Dec. 20 to Jan. 6. An analysis of AAA’s flight booking data from the last three years revealed that most holiday air travelers depart two or three days before Christmas and return the day after the holiday.

This holiday season, Saturday, Dec. 22, Sunday, Dec. 23, and Wednesday, Dec. 26, will be the busiest days in the skies and at the airports. Fewer holiday travelers choose to fly on Christmas Eve (Monday, Dec. 24) and Christmas Day (Tuesday, Dec. 25), which are the lightest travel days around the Christmas holiday. As colder air plunges into and builds over the central United States, a stormy pattern with snow, ice and rain may unfold from Texas to Maine for Christmas holiday travelers. During a typical winter, this weather pattern can bring a storm and travel concerns once every five to seven days. However, with the pattern anticipated from Dec. 21 to Dec. 26, there is the potential for two storms that may be disruptive to travel in areas from the Rockies and southern Plains to the Midwest and Northeast states. The key to which areas stand the best chance of snow and/or ice will depend on how far to the south and east the cold air pushes out from the North Central states.

It is best to check ahead for the forecast for areas you will be traveling through. Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. AAA expects to rescue more than 960,000 motorists at the roadside this year-end holiday period. Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown.