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Holiday travel: Americans to hit the road in record numbers

Audrey Conklin

A record number of Americans will be traveling coast to coast this holiday season.

About 115.6 million Americans will travel via car, plane, train or bus from Saturday, Dec. 21, through Wednesday, Jan. 1, according to AAA estimates.

"Holiday cheer is at an all-time high this year, with unemployment at historically low levels and noted improvements in both disposable income and household net worth," Paula Twidale, vice president of travel at AAA, said in a statement. "Travelers should be getting used to crowded highways and airports, as this marks the eighth straight year of new record-high travel volumes for the year-end holidays."

The number is the largest AAA has recorded since it began tracking holiday travel numbers in 2000, representing an increase of 4.3 million travelers compared to last year.

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More than 104 million Americans will travel via automobile -- a 3.9 percent increase since last year; nearly 7 million people will travel by plane -- a 4.9 percent increase since 2018; and about 3.8 million people will travel by other forms of transportation such as bus, train or cruise ships -- 3 percent more than last year, according to transportation analytics company INRIX.

AAA and INRIX also estimate minor delays throughout the travel days listed, though drivers could see travel times double on Thursday and Friday.

"With kids out of school and many Americans taking extended time off for the holidays, drivers will experience only incremental delays throughout the week. Although congestion will be lighter than normal, knowing when and where major delays will likely happen will help save time and reduce stress this holiday season," INRIX transportation analyst Trevor Reed said in a statement.

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Additionally, gas prices could reach a new low before the new year, AAA estimates.

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