’Tis the Second-Busiest Season of Travel on Record

AAA projects a 2.2% increase in domestic travelers over last year.

December 14, 2023

This holiday season, 115.2 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home over the 10-day year-end holiday travel period, according to AAA. This year’s total number of domestic travelers is a 2.2% increase over last year and the second highest year-end travel forecast since 2000, when AAA began tracking holiday travel.

Of those travelers, AAA expects nearly 104 million people will drive to their holiday destinations, an increase of 1.8% compared to 2022. Meanwhile, airports are expected to be the busiest they’ve ever been over the Christmas and New Year’s travel period, with 7.5 million people expected to fly this season, surpassing the record of 7.3 million in 2019.

“This year-end holiday forecast, with an additional 2.5 million travelers compared to last year, mirrors what AAA Travel has been observing throughout 2023,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “More Americans are investing in travel, despite the cost, to make memories with loved ones and experience new places.” 

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 most congested days on the road. Additionally, Saturday, December 30, will see an increase in traffic as people either travel home from the holidays or as they travel for New Year’s Eve.

“Nationwide, drivers could see travel times up to 20% longer this holiday season. In major metros, especially in Denver, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., drivers could experience nearly double the typical delays,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX.

AAA also announced the top 10 domestic travel destinations for the holiday period, noting that travelers are heading to warm weather destinations like Florida and Texas as well as major metro locations like New York and Las Vegas.

The top 10 domestic locations are:

  • Orlando, Florida
  • Anaheim, California
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Miami, Florida
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • New York, New York
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Houston, Texas