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Pack Your Patience: Record-Setting Year-End Travel Expected

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AAA forecasts a record 107.3 million people will be taking trips through January 1.

If you’re heading out to visit family or take a vacation in the next two weeks, be sure to pack your patience: A record number of people are expected to be traveling this holiday season.

AAA forecasts more than 107 million Americans will take to planes, trains, automobiles and other modes of transportation from Saturday through Jan. 1. That’s a 3.1 percent increase in travel volume compared with last year.

Jennifer Haugh with AAA Kansas says this will be the highest year-end travel volume on record.

“The gas prices are definitely a contributor to that. You know, they are a little higher than last year but they are still not bad. Also, I think consumer confidence is up,” Haugh says.

AAA reports gas prices in Kansas are averaging about $2.25 per gallon. Kansas ranks 11th in the nation for the lowest gas prices.

Haugh says Wednesday and Thursday will likely be the busiest days on the roads.

“There’s about 8.7 million people just in our region [Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska and South Dakota] that are going to be moving around for the holidays and that’s more than 50 miles from their homes," she says. "So that’s a lot of people on the road and a lot of people taking to the air as well."

If you are traveling by air, it’s recommended that you get to the airport two hours before departure, and don’t wrap presents.

A blast of winter weather is expected to hit the region this weekend. Haugh says it’s never too early to make sure your vehicle is ready for the drop in temperatures.

“If you have a weak battery, your car is not going to start. So make sure that battery is up to par, and that if it hasn’t been replaced in the last three to five years, you might want to get it checked out,” Haugh says.

This year will be the ninth consecutive year with an increase in year-end travel.

By the Numbers: 2017 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast:

• Automobiles: The majority of travelers - 97.4 million - will hit the road, a 3 percent year-over-year increase.

• Planes: 6.4 million people will travel by air, a 4.1 percent increase and the fourth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.

• Trains, Buses, Rails and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 2.2 percent to 3.6 million.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.


Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.