(NEXSTAR) – If you haven’t yet made plans for your Christmas and New Year’s travels, you may not want to wait any longer. Roughly one in three Americans are expected to travel for the holidays, and with the vast majority relying on cars to get them to their destination, AAA is already warning of delays on roadways.
While gas costs roughly $1.25 more per gallon this year compared to last year, AAA estimates over 100 million Americans are planning to get to their holiday destination via cars. In 2020, just 78.5 million hit the road for Christmas and New Year’s.
AAA reports only marginal travel delays are expected throughout the holiday week, but major metro areas may see travel take twice — or in some places, three times — as long as normal.
For those living or commuting through Boston, Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco, traffic congestion is expected to peak on Dec. 23, according to data from INRIX, which provides connected car services and transportation analytics. New York and Washington D.C. can expect traffic congestion to reach its peak on Dec. 27 while Seattle’s peak congestion is forecasted for Dec. 28. Atlanta, Houston and Los Angeles will face the most traffic on Jan. 2.
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Using data from INRIX, AAA has predicted the best and worst times to travel for each of the 11 days between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2 nationwide.
|Date||Worst travel time||Best travel time|
|12/25/21||Minimal congestion expected|
|12/31/21||2:00–4:00pm||Before 1:00pm, after 5:00pm|
|1/1/22||Minimal congestion expected|
According to AAA, these forecasted numbers may change due to concerns over COVID-19 cases or the omicron variant forcing people to reevaluate their holiday plans.
If you are traveling this holiday season, it’s important to check the local closures, recommendations, and requirements of your destination, either domestic or foreign. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend everyone wear a mask while aboard any public transportation and when indoors at public spaces in areas of substantial or high COVID transmission.
While traveling in the U.S., fully vaccinated travelers do not need a negative COVID test or to self-quarantine. The CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.
If you have been exposed to COVID-19, are sick, or test positive for COVID-19, you are encouraged refrain from traveling. If you are unvaccinated and must travel this holiday season, the CDC recommends getting tested for COVID before leaving and after arriving at your destination. If you have recovered from COVID in the past 90 days and remain without symptoms, the CDC says you do not need to get tested or self-quarantine while traveling.
In addition to wearing a mask while traveling and in public spaces, the CDC also recommends frequent hand washing and avoiding large groups.