A record-breaking number of Americans will travel for the holidays this year – yikes! Here’s how to survive it without losing your mind
‘Tis the season for delays and traffic jams.
More Americans than ever will travel this year for the holidays, according to data released by AAA on Thursday. Indeed, 107.3 million travelers will hit the skies and roads from Dec. 23 – Jan. 1 — “the highest year-end holiday travel volume on record,” says AAA. More than 97 million people will drive to their destinations (up 3%) and 6.4 million will fly (up 4.1%).
In other words, don’t expect your travels to be smooth sailing, America. But not to worry, Moneyish gathered some of the best travel tips and tricks to ease the pain, whether you’re driving or flying.
Avoid driving on these days and times.
In general, expect traffic to be the worst on Wednesday, Dec. 20th and Thursday, Dec. 21st in the late afternoons, as many try to leave work early to hit the road, according to data from transportation analytics company INRIX. Those traveling through big cities, of course, may experience the most headaches. Here’s what INRIX expects will be the worst time for travel:
|Worst Days/Times to Travel|
|Metro Area||Worst Day for Travel||Worst Time for Travel||Delay Multiplier|
|New York, NY||Wednesday, Dec. 20||3:30 – 5:30 PM||3x normal traffic|
|Los Angeles, CA||Wednesday, Dec. 20||3:30 – 6:00 PM||2.5x|
|Washington, DC||Thursday, Dec. 21||3:00 – 6:00 PM||2.5x|
|San Francisco, CA||Wednesday, Dec. 20||3:00 – 5:30 PM||2x|
|Chicago, IL||Thursday, Dec. 21||4:00 – 6:00 PM||2x|
|Boston, MA||Thursday, Dec. 21||2:30 – 4:30 PM||2x|
|Seattle, WA||Thursday, Dec. 20||4:00 – 6:00 PM||2x|
|Atlanta, GA||Thursday, Dec. 21||4:30 – 6:30 PM||1.5x|
|Houston, TX||Wednesday, Dec. 20||5:30 – 7:30 PM||1.5x|
|Detroit, MI||Thursday, Dec. 21||3:00 – 5:30 PM||1.5x|
Use these sanity-savers at the airport.
You’ve probably already booked your flights so there’s no good way to avoid the airports with the most delays and cancellations (Houston, Oakland and Chicago top the list) or change the time of your flights (often, it’s smart to get the first flight out in the morning to avoid delays). But there are things you can do to minimize the cost and annoyance if you are delayed. Consider a day-long lounge pass, which costs around $50, because it typically has free food, drink and WiFi may end up saving you money; and know what things are overpriced in the airport and which aren’t. Check out my Moneyish story here for more tips on delaying with delays.
Try these rental car secrets.
Renting a car is going to be way more expensive this year than last — AAA predicts that at $74, the daily car rental rate increased 11% over a year prior. If you haven’t booked the car yet, avoid renting at the airport as it’s more expensive; even with the cost of an Uber to another rental car spot, you can save by going off site. If you have rented the car already, you may still be able to save. Enter your rental car info into AutoSlash.com, which tracks prices and will re-book you if the rate drops.
Consider carpooling or Ubering to these airports, rather than parking.
The five most expensive airports to park at, according to new data released by TravelBank are New York LaGuardia ($59 per day short-term, terminal-side parking; $39 long-term economy), Boston Logan ($70/$26); Seattle-Tacoma ($37/$30); San Francisco ($36/$25) and New York JFK ($39/$18). That can quickly add up over even a few days — making it cheaper to Uber. Better yet: Have a friend drive and pick you up.
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