Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast: Carolinians Take to the Road for the 2021 Holiday

by Gwen Newell
Christmas lights and decorations on the outdoor of a home in McAdenville, NC

It comes as no surprise that a lot of Americans had to cancel getaways and get-togethers last year due to the pandemic, but they are definitely making up for lost time this holiday season. This time around, more than 109 million people — an almost 34% increase from 2020 — will travel 50 miles or more as they hit the road, board airplanes or take other transportation out of town between December 23rd and January 2nd. That dramatic bounce-back — 27.7 million more travelers than the 2020 holiday period — brings this year’s numbers just 8% shy of 2019 – which was the highest on record.

With more than 100 million on the roads and 6 million in the skies, road trips still remain the top mode of travel during the holidays, with 91% planning to drive to their destinations, despite gasoline costing $1.12 per gallon more than a year ago.

If you’re one of the millions of travelers preparing to hit the road the next week, a pro-tip (that could potentially save you a headache) is to plan ahead. This is especially important for motorists in major metro areas, who could see more than double the delays versus typical drive times. In the Carolinas alone, travel has rebounded 35% as nearly 4.8 million Carolinians are forecasted to travel for the holidays. Below we’ve included a chart of Daily Worst and Best Times to Travel that we predict will be helpful while planning. From AAA Carolinas, safe travels!

 

Daily Worst and Best Times to Travel
Date Worst travel time Best travel time
12/23/21 12:00–6:00pm After 7:00pm
12/24/21 2:00–6:00pm Before 1:00pm
12/25/21 Minimal congestion expected
12/26/21 1:00–7:00pm Before 12:00pm
12/27/21 5:00–6:00pm Before 1:00pm
12/28/21 1:00–7:00pm Before 12:00pm
12/29/21 1:00–7:00pm Before 11:00am
12/30/21 1:00–7:00pm Before 12:00pm
12/31/21 2:00–4:00pm Before 1:00pm, after 5:00pm

 

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