Nashville, TN – ’Tis the season to travel, and AAA estimates 2.6 million Tennesseans will journey 50 miles or more away from home from December 23rd to January 2nd.
That’s an increase of over 107,000 people over last year and the third highest on record for the year-end holiday travel period in Tennessee.
Tennessee Year-End Holiday Traveler Totals
(2021 to 2022)
National travel figures are also stronger than 2021, yet slightly lower than pre-pandemic levels. An estimated 112.7 million Americans are forecast to travel during 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 remain resilient and dedicated to travel this year, and the holidays will be no different,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Americans 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 Tennessee, 2.4 million residents will take at least one-holiday road trip. That’s 32,000 more than last year and nearly 92% of 2019’s volume.
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 flying 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. The state average has declined 46 cents per gallon since November 11th.
On Sunday, the average price for gasoline in Tennessee was $2.86 per gallon. That’s nearly 17 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 Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for 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 day will be Tuesday, December 27th. The best advice for avoiding congestion is to leave early in the morning or later in the evening.
Best & Worst Times to Travel by Car
|Date||Worst travel time||Best travel time|
|12/23/22||4:00-7:00PM||Before 2:00PM, After 8:00PM|
|12/24/22||12:00-6:00PM||Before 11:00AM, After 7:00PM|
|12/25/22 – Minimal Traffic Expected|
|12/26/22||2:00-6:00 PM||Before 12:00 PM, After 7:00 PM|
|12/27/22||3:00-7:00 PM||Before 2:00 PM, After 8:00 PM|
|12/28/22||3:00-7:00 PM||Before 2:00 PM, After 8:00 PM|
|12/29/22||3:00-7:00 PM||Before 2:00 PM, After 8:00 PM|
|12/30/22||3:00-7:00 PM||Before 2:00 PM, After 8:00 PM|
|12/31/22 – Minimal Traffic Expected|
|1/1/23 – Minimal Traffic Expected|
|1/2/23||4:00-7:00 PM||Before 3:00 PM, After 8:00 PM|
AAA Advice for Auto Travelers
- Leave early so you are not in a rush.
- Watch the weather. Consider alternate routes or adjust your departure time to avoid driving through bad weather.
- Never drive distracted. Pre-program your GPS and put the cellphone down while driving.
- Wear your seat belt and never drive impaired.
AAA Expects to Rescue nearly 899,000 stranded motorists
Nearly 899,000 drivers will need AAA roadside assistance during the 11-day holiday period. The most common reasons are for dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts.
AAA encourages drivers to get a full vehicle inspection before hitting the road – checking everything from your tires to brakes, lights, and wiper blades. You can find a list of AAA Approved Auto Repair Facilities at AAA.com/AutoRepair.
Ensure your vehicle has an emergency kit. This should include jumper cables, a first-aid kit, car/portable phone charger(s), flashlight with extra batteries, and drinking water and snacks for everyone in the car. Click here to view a full list of items.
AAA Reminds Drivers to ‘Move Over for Me’
Being stuck on the roadside will be especially dangerous during the holidays, due to the influx of auto travelers and the potential for impaired drivers.
“Whether it’s a tow truck or a disabled vehicle, when you see flashing lights please move over,” said Cooper. “We want to make sure all holiday travelers, tow truck drivers and first responders make it home safely for the holidays.”
Click here to learn more about The Auto Club Group’s ‘Move Over for Me’ campaign.
AAA Advice for Air Travelers
Strong demand will create long lines at airports, yet winter weather is the wild card. Snow and other winter conditions can not only cause delays and cancellations, but combine that with strong demand during this season, and you can have a hard time getting re-booked in a hurry.
“If you plan on flying this time of year, travel insurance can be extremely valuable for air travelers,” Haas said. “There are policies that can provide compensation for flight delays for as little as three hours. And if your flight is canceled, passengers can receive compensation for covered out-of-pocket expenses.”
Other Air Travel Tips
- Check-in early online.
- Monitor your flight status using your air carrier’s mobile app.
- Arrive 2-3 hours before scheduled departure.
- Pack medications and an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag, just in case your flight is delayed or cancelled.
If you Have Not Booked your Flight:
- Book a flight that leaves early in the day. Flights in the afternoon and evening are more susceptible to delays and cancellations.
- Book a direct flight. Otherwise, build in extra time between connections, in case your first flight is delayed.
- Consider traveling on Christmas Day. This could offer the best combination of availability and price.
Holiday Forecast Methodology: A Brief Overview
In cooperation with AAA, S&P Global Market Intelligence developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from S&P Global Market Intelligence’s proprietary databases.
These data include macroeconomic drivers such as employment, output, household net worth, asset prices, including stock indices, interest rates, housing market indicators, and variables related to travel and tourism, including gasoline prices, airline travel, and hotel stays. AAA and S&P Global Market Intelligence have quantified holiday travel volumes going back to 2000.
Historical travel volume estimates come from DK SHIFFLET’s TRAVEL
PERFORMANCE/Monitor SM. The PERFORMANCE/Monitor SM is a comprehensive study measuring the travel behavior of U.S. residents. DK SHIFFLET contacts over 50,000 U.S. households each month to obtain detailed travel data, resulting in the unique ability to estimate visitor volume and spending, identify trends and forecast U.S. travel behavior—all after the trips have been taken.
The travel forecast is reported in person-trips. In particular, AAA and S&P Global Market Intelligence forecast the total U.S. holiday travel volume and expected mode of transportation. The travel forecast presented in this report was prepared for the week of November 15th, 2022.
Year-End Holiday Travel Period
For purposes of this forecast, the year-end holiday travel period is defined as the 11-day period from Friday, December 23rd to Monday, January 2nd. This period is the same length as the 2021/2022 year-end travel period.
The year-end holiday travel period can range from 10 to 13 days, depending on which day of the week Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall. All the year-end holiday periods contain two weekends.
About AAA – The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 13 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories.
ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 62 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety.
Founded in 2004, INRIX pioneered intelligent mobility solutions by transforming big data from connected devices and vehicles into mobility insights. This revolutionary approach enabled INRIX to become one of the leading providers of data and analytics into how people move. By empowering cities, businesses, and people with valuable insights, INRIX is helping to make the world smarter, safer, and greener.
With partners and solutions spanning across the entire mobility ecosystem, INRIX is uniquely positioned at the intersection of technology and transportation – whether it’s keeping road users safe, improving traffic signal timing to reduce delay and greenhouse gasses, optimizing last-mile delivery, or helping uncover market insights. Learn more at INRIX.com.