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'Tis the season to travel

Hollywood, MD- If you’re heading to Pennsylvania and some homemade pumpkin pie this holiday, you certainly will not be alone on the roads. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, the traffic is expected to be anything but terrific.

Americans are expected to hit the roads in record numbers over the next two weeks. AAA predicts 107.3 million people will take to the skies, rails and roads between Saturday, Dec. 23 and Monday, Jan. 1.

This is expected to be the busiest travel season ever recorded and a 3.1-percent increase over last year. In fact, AAA says holiday travel has skyrocketed more than 25-percent since 2005.

In the Washington, DC metro area, nearly 2.7 million people are expected to travel for the holidays—2.4 million of them will travel by car.

Of course, it probably comes as no surprise, but travel experts warn of major congestion around metro areas, particularly on Wednesday and Thursday.

John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs, said, “The busiest travel days will be December 20 and 21 during rush hour as holiday travelers and people going home from work converge on local highways. An additional 148,600 area persons are projected to depart on their holiday trips by air as well as a projected 101,600 people traveling by trains, buses and cruise ships.”

The peak travel time around the Washington metro area is expected to be on Thursday, Dec. 21 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. And make sure you pack your patience because your trip could take you nearly three times longer than normal.

Despite higher gas prices than last year, travelers don’t seem to mind the pain at the pump. “More expensive gas prices are not swaying holiday revelers to stay home,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “In fact, across the board this year, travel has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend--Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving – and we project the same for the year-end holiday period. We’ve seen the strong economy and growing consumer confidence fuel holiday travel all year long.”

Gas prices this holiday are the highest since 2014 with the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded at $2.47—up 28-cents from last December.

Surprisingly, though, airfare is cheaper this holiday. Many travelers are paying 20-percent less for their flights over the 2016 holiday season.

Travel tip—plan to hit the road early in the morning or after the morning commute. In addition, try to avoid traveling through major cities during rush hour times. If you can, drive on Christmas Day, there will be far less drivers on the road.

Be safe and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season!

Contact Joy Shrum at j.shrum@thebaynet.com

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