Going home for the holidays? Before you head to your destination, check out these top tips for navigating a travel season that’s expected to be busier than last year’s. From prices to traffic, here’s everything you need to know to make your holiday travels as smooth as possible.
If you haven’t booked your flights yet, don’t wait any longer. Airfare costs are expected to hit record levels and flight availability is limited amid a nationwide pilot shortage and rising jet fuel costs. Nearly 7.2 million air travelers are expected this year, a 14% increase from 2021 and slightly lower than pre-pandemic holiday travel in 2019, when 7.3 million Americans took to the skies.
Expect long lines in the days leading up to and immediately after Christmas as travelers fill airports. Experts recommend traveling on Christmas Day if you’re looking for the least crowded day to travel. Book flights in the morning to avoid delays or cancellations. And be patient: This year, Hanukkah, which is Dec. 18-26, and the Christmas holidays coincide, which could increase air traffic numbers in the holiday season.
Taking a train ride this holiday season? Riders are likely to see higher fare prices, even more than the usual holiday season prices. Tickets are expected to cost 51% more in the week before Christmas compared to prices a year ago, according to travel website/app Wanderu. To get the best price, book tickets as soon as possible as train fares usually increase closer to the departure date. Are you flexible with your travel dates? If so, experts recommend booking your arrival journey for the Tuesday before Christmas and your return journey for the Thursday or Saturday after Christmas.
… and automobiles
Nearly 102 million Americans — about 2 million more than last year and on par with pre-pandemic levels — are expected to hit the road this holiday season, according to AAA. For those planning a road trip, experts advise leaving early to account for traffic delays and loading smartphone apps for maps, fuel prices and more before heading out. With roadworks ongoing across the state, keep construction zones in mind when calculating travel times.
The good news for drivers this year: Gasoline prices are continuing their months-long slide, according to AAA. As of Thursday, the national average cost for a gallon of regular gas was $3.19 — a far cry from $4.89 a gallon on July 4.