(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

With Christmas and New Year’s coming up, I’m sure it would be helpful to know the best and worst times for holiday travel.

If you’re hitting the road for the holidays, you may be wondering if you’ll get stuck in bad traffic.

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Travel at this time of year has definitely rebounded since the pandemic. Across the country, people can expect drives taking up to 25% longer than usual.

All modes of transportation will see an increase in travelers this holiday season. According to AAA, 112.7 million people are estimated to travel farther than 50 miles this year between 12/23-1/2. That’s a 3.6 million increase over last year. Of that 112.7 million, about 102 million will be driving. Even though that means that 90% of travelers will drive to their holiday destinations, air travel will see a jump this year. AAA forecasts flights to be up 14% compared to last year.

Marie Dodds of AAA said: “Despite roller coaster gas prices and a bumpy year for flights, people are ready to wrap up the year with a holiday trip. This will be one of the busiest times for holiday travel in the last two decades. Travelers should expect busy roads and crowded airports this holiday season.”

Because it will be busy out there, with that can come road rage. In fact, a few Florida cities made a list of those with the most aggressive drivers, so be careful out there!

Best and Worst times for Holiday travel:

  • When is the best time to travel?

    The days predicted to have the least traffic are Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. If you can’t travel on those days, heading out early or in later in the evening to avoid work time commutes is best.

    The best times to travel are before 2 p.m. and after 8 p.m. On Christmas Eve, however, it’s best to leave before 11 a.m. and after 7 p.m.

    The day after Christmas, it’s recommended to be on the road before noon or after 7 p.m.

    For the day after New Year’s Day, the best travel times are before 3 p.m. and after 8 p.m.

  • How will weather impact holiday traffic?

    Here in SWFL, we don’t have to worry about severe weather, though it will be chilly this year. However, if you’re driving across the country or flying, it’s best to see what cities will be getting what weather-wise so you can plan an alternate route, a stop overnight, or even change flight plans to avoid delays or cancellations.

  • Worst travel times

    If you’re driving through a big city, plan on double the usual traffic delays.

    The afternoon to early evening, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., is going to have the worst traffic as travelers will be in the fold with work commuters.

    On Dec. 23, the worst traffic will be between 4 and 7 p.m.

    On the day after Christmas, the worst traffic will be between 2 and 6 p.m

    For the day after New Year’s Day, bad traffic is predicted to be between 4 and 7 p.m.

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