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'Making the most of the holiday': Why US holiday travel is at a record high

Nick Monte

Buckle up for a hectic and congested end to 2019.

Over 115 million Americans are traveling for the holiday season, according to AAA. Not only is that the most since AAA began tracking the data since 2000, but it’s roughly 4 million more (or 3.9%) from last year. 

According to Robert Sinclair, manager of media relations for AAA Northeast, this is all good news for the economy. “Household network disposable income is up. People have that extra time, that extra money ... So people are making the most of the holiday.”

Thirty-five percent of the entire U.S. population will be traveling this holiday season. AAA says that 104 million will drive, 7 million will fly, and 3.8 million will use either a train, bus, or cruise ship.

Atlanta interstate traffic headed North toward Downtown. Image: Getty

Sinclair added, “Americans get the fewest number of vacation days of many workers in the industrialized world, so when we get an opportunity like this, we take advantage of it.”

Indeed, the Center for Economic and Policy Research finds that 23% of Americans have no paid vacation while the average private sector worker gets 10 paid vacation days a year. The Center notes that’s far less than any other major economy except for Japan.

Unfortunately, gas prices are 20 cents more expensive than they were during last year’s holiday season, a major drawback for road travel.

Popular destinations

All of those people are going somewhere, and most of them are heading towards warmer weather. The warmer cities people are visiting are, according to AAA

-Orlando, Florida

-Anaheim, California

-Honolulu, Hawaii

-Las Vegas, Nevada

-Cancun, Mexico

-Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

The lone city that’s frigid and getting a lot of travelers — New York.

Nick Monte is a producer for Yahoo Finance.