Boston traffic, boston driving, boston travel, boston holiday travel
Are you heading home for the holidays? Millions of Massachusetts residents will be traveling. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Are you heading home for the holidays? More than 100 million people in the United States are, so knowing when to hit the road to avoid traffic may be key to a stress-free (as possible) journey.

Across the country, 107 million people will be traveling by car, planes and trains between Saturday, Dec. 23 through Monday, Jan. 1, according to AAA. Massachusetts residents alone will account for 2.3 million of those travellers.

The number of holiday commuters is up 3.1 percent from 2016, meaning this season is set to have the highest amount of year-end travel on record, AAA reported. Most Americans heading to a new holiday locale — 97.4 million — will get there by automobile, meaning the roads will be busy.

AAA and INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, crunched the numbers to predict that travel times over the holiday week could actually be as much as three times longer than the regular trip ETA.

 

“With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in major metros,” Dr. Graham Cookson, chief economist and head of research at INRIX, said in a statement. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak times altogether or consider alternative routes.”

The highest amount of congestion will appear right before the holiday week starts, Wednesday, Dec. 20 and Thursday, Dec. 21, INRIX predicts, based on travel trends. Travel will worsen in the late afternoon as commuters and holiday travelers mix.

Around Boston specifically, the worst time to travel is between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 21, according to AAA, when your trip will take twice as long as normal.

GPS app Waze also looked at driver insights from last year and came to a different conclusion, specifying that 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 22 will be the worst time to hit the road. 

Christmas Day, Dec. 25, will have the least amount of traffic of any day between Dec. 22 and Jan. 4, according to Waze, though the app does see a 130 percent increase in navigations to movie theaters on that day, compared to the previous four weeks. 

When it comes to heading home, Jan. 1 will be as calm as any other Sunday, Waze predicts. Over the holidays, AAA is advising people to try to avoid traveling through major cities during peak commute times, instead opting to leave early morning or after the morning commute when roads are less crowded.

For those who will get behind the wheel, here’s another thing to be wary of: When you go to fill your tank, you’ll see the most expensive year-end gas prices since 2014, according to AAA. This December’s national average gas price is $2.47, 28 cents more than the average for Dec. 2016.