It’s the most wonderful time of the year….except for all the time you might spend sitting in traffic during your holiday travel.
More than one-third of Americans will travel some way this end-of-the-year holiday season, according to AAA, for a record-breaking 112.5 million travelers taking planes, trains and automobiles to their holiday destination.
That’s a 4.4 increase in travelers from last year and the most since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2001, according to the automobile association.
Of all those travelers, 102 million will be driving, meaning packed roads all across the country. AAA defines the “holiday season” as stretching from Saturday, Dec. 22 through Tuesday, Jan. 1 — 11 days total and one day longer than last year, due to Christmas and New Year’s both falling on Tuesdays — but the holiday travel traffic will start even earlier.
So when should you pack up your car with all your presents and hit the road? AAA worked with data company INRIX to look at historical holiday travel trends and identify the worst times for traffic congestion, so you can try to avoid more holiday stress.
Drivers in New York City and Boston will see some of the worst traffic, with travel times expected to be more than three times longer than a normal trip. Here’s what you need to know before you hit the road.
Worst time for New York City holiday travel 2018
New York City traffic is nothing new, but it’ll be extra-intense ahead of Christmas. The worst time to travel, per AAA, is from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 20, when delays will make your trip 3.75 times longer than usual.
If you’re opting to fly rather than drive, you should still be warned. There are 6.7 million people traveling by air this year, the highest level in 15 years, according to AAA.
Some flight routes leaving New York City are the worst for holiday travel disruptions, per AirHelp, a company that helps passengers get compensation from airlines when their flights are cancelled, delayed or overbooked.
There are 83,000 disrupted flights during Christmas week, according to AirHelp, and some of the most disrupted routes include LaGuardia Airport to Toronto Lester B Pearson International Airport; LaGuardia to Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport; Newark Liberty International Airport to Toronto Bishop Billy City Airport; and Newark to Toronto Lester B Pearson International Airport.
Worst time for Boston holiday travel 2018
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
According to the AAA and INRIX analysis, it seems Boston drivers are planning to head out early for their holiday travel. The worst time to be on the road will be Wednesday, Dec. 19 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., when delays will make your trip 3.5 times longer than usual.
But why are there so many more people hitting the road for 2018 holiday travel? You can thank cheaper gas prices, per the automobile association.
While gas has been pretty expensive all year around, a recent drop has lead to the cheapest national gas price averages of the year. Gas prices now average $2.37 nationally, per AAA, marking the cheapest December prices seen at the pump since 2016.
Plenty of travelers will take to the skies as well, though, and Boston Logan International Airport will surely be packed. Unfortunately, it will also have some of the most disrupted flight routes during Christmas week, according to AirHelp, like Logan International Airport to Orlando International Airport and Logan to Toronto Lester B Pearson International Airport.