HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – More Americans than ever are expected to be on the roads and in the air, heading off to their holiday destinations this season.
AAA expects 115.6 million travelers this holiday season, from Saturday, Dec. 21 through Wednesday, Jan. 1, which is the most in nearly 20 years since AAA began tracking holiday travel. This shows a 4.3 million increase of people packing up and heading out for the holiday season.
“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 Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “Travelers should be 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.”
AAA predicts that nearly 7 million travelers will fly across the nation for the season, starting on Dec. 21. The 22nd will be the single busiest air travel day of the holiday week across the nation, according to AAA.
The Myrtle Beach International Airport reports that more than 70,000 people are expected to fly in and out of the Grand Strand between Thursday, Dec. 19 and Sunday, Jan. 5.
Airport officials also said that the lightest travel days are Sunday, Dec. 22; Tuesday, Dec. 24, Dec. 31; and Thursday, Jan. 2
Myrtle Beach International Airport allows you to plan ahead and see the TSA security wait times and flight status before you get to the airport. Also, be sure to check the TSA guidelines to make sure your carry-on luggage has the proper items.
AAA said Christmas Eve is the best day to travel nationwide, with the lowest average price per ticket and the fewest crowds of the holiday week.
Nearly 105 million people will pack up their vehicles for the holidays, which means roads will be jam-packed with travelers, AAA reports.
The travel agency says that across the nation, the worst days to be on the road will be Thursday, Dec. 26 and Friday, Dec. 27. INIRIX, a transportation analytics firm, predicted the worst day to travel and peak congestion period for major cities in the U.S.
- Atlanta: Thursday, Dec. 26, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
- Boston: Friday, Dec. 27, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
- Chicago: Thursday, Dec. 26, 4:45 – 6:45 p.m.
- Detroit: Thursday, Dec. 26, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
- Houston: Friday, Dec. 27, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
- Los Angeles: Thursday, Dec. 26, 4:25 – 6:25 p.m.
- New York: Thursday, Dec. 26, 4:15 – 6:15 p.m.
- San Francisco: Thursday, Dec. 26, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
- Seattle: Friday, Dec. 27, 4:15 – 6:15 p.m.
- Washington, D.C.: Thursday, Dec. 26, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation is making it easier for drivers to get to their holiday destination. The agency is prohibiting lane closures on interstates for non-emergency highway work during the Christmas holiday travel period. The restrictions will be in place from 6 a.m. Friday, Dec. 20 through 10 p.m., Friday, Jan. 3.
You will be able to keep a little extra money in your pocket at the pump.
AAA says gas prices are expected to drop in time for the holidays. On Monday, the travel agency reported a national average of $2.55, which is almost a nickel cheaper than at the beginning of the month.
“As the weather turns colder, people tend to drive less and we see less gasoline demand,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “This is causing gas prices to be less expensive. In the lead up to the holidays, we may see a small spike in demand, but not enough to impact gas prices substantially.”
In South Carolina, the average price per gallon is $2.27.