Holiday travel continues; Over 109 million travelers expected during this season

By Haylee Pence

[email protected]

MIAMI VALLEY – The holiday travel season is currently in full swing, having started Dec. 23 and ending on Jan. 2, according to Kara Hitchens, manager of Public and Government Affairs with AAA.

AAA was projecting “more than 109 million people traveling for the holiday season.”

After the Christmas holiday, the “preliminary reports from TSA have exceeded projections,” and there’s still more time for travel.

Hitchens believes, “some travelers altered their plans because of COVID, but […] members are anxious to travel,” in response to the impact the new COVID variant would have on travel. With vaccinations and booster shots available, travelers could feel more comfortable about traveling during a pandemic.

Another possible impact on travel was the higher gas prices, although Hitchens said, “Gas prices have not been a deterrent in making travel plans.” Leading up to the Christmas holiday, the gas prices have been trending downward, even though they are higher than last year.

AAA released six safety tips:

• Work with a trusted travel advisor: Given the potential for shifting travel restrictions in the wake of COVID-19, AAA strongly recommends working with a travel advisor who can help navigate any issues that may arise and advise as to the best, safest options. AAA travel advisors are on hand at all AAA Retail locations.

• Consider travel insurance: Travel insurance is relatively inexpensive for the peace of mind it provides in return but policies differ. AAA recommends insurance that allows travelers to “cancel for any reason.” A recent AAA survey found that about a third of all travelers are more likely to consider purchasing travel insurance specifically because of the pandemic.

• Book a vehicle checkup today: Whether driving to your year-end destination or driving to the airport, basic vehicle maintenance reduces your risk of a breakdown or battery failure. AAA will be busy providing Emergency Roadside Service to hundreds of thousands of Members forced to rethink their holiday plans because of a breakdown. This is an extremely busy time of year at AAA Car Centers and AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities as vehicle owners ready their cars for winter. Make an appointment today for a bumper-to-bumper vehicle check-up, which may not be available if you wait until the last minute.

• Expect delays and plan accordingly: Whether you are planning to drive or fly to your holiday destination, give yourself extra time. Drivers should travel at off-peak times if possible. Flyers should get to the airport at least two hours prior to their flights if traveling domestically, three hours if traveling internationally.

• Understand and abide by CDC guidelines and local travel restrictions: The omicron variant reminds us that we are still in flux and at risk of changes being imposed on where and how we can travel safely. Masking is still required in airports and most public transportation hubs. Knowing what is expected of travelers will save you time and reduce stress.

• Take additional precautions: Drivers should make sure their AAA Membership is up to date so what could be a minor inconvenience does not become a major disruption to their holiday plans.

“Making sure your car is road-ready before you hit the roads is essential, and sometimes slowing down can actually save you time in the long run,” Hitchens said.