Traveling for the holidays? The times you should avoid on NJ roads
‘Tis the season to travel and AAA estimates almost 113 million people will travel 50 miles or more away from home between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2. That’s an increase of 3.6 million people over last year.
This year is expected to be the busiest for holiday travel since AAA began tracking 2000.
How many New Jerseyans will be traveling this holiday season?
In New Jersey, 2.6 million residents will journey 50 miles or more from home, according to AAA MidAtlantic spokeswoman, Tracy Noble. That’s up 3% year over year.
She said it’s no surprise that driving will be the most common mode of transportation, with 2.3 million of those New Jersey travelers sticking to the roads.
Air travel is up 13% year over year with 175,000 New Jerseyans flying to their holiday destinations, Noble added.
There is a 27% increase in other modes of transportation. That’s 80,000 New Jerseyans using trains, buses, cruise ships, or using multi modes for their holiday travel.
This just goes to show where people are post-pandemic with their comfort levels being with strangers traveling, she said.
Travel is almost on par with pre-pandemic levels.
“In 2022, we have 2.3 million going by car. In 2019, we had almost 2.6 million going by car. So, we are not right back to pre-pandemic, but certainly closing the gap from the 1.8 million we saw in 2020,” Noble said.
How do gas prices come into play when it comes to traveling?
Falling gas prices are a nice gift for travelers this year. After record highs this summer, fuel prices have been dropping drastically in recent weeks. Noble said by Christmas, many people could be paying less for gas than they were last holiday season.
All indicators point to that decline continuing through the end of the year. “That’s certainly good news for those taking holiday trips and could even mean some extra goodies in the stockings this year,” Noble said.
What are the top destinations for 2022?
Theme park hotspots Orlando and Anaheim remain the two most popular domestic destinations, according to AAA. Major cities like New York, Boston, and Atlanta also top the list, as well as Tampa, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Popular European and Canadian destination spots include London, Dublin, Rome, Paris, Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto.
When are the worst days to travel this holiday season?
The worst times to travel are going to be on Dec. 23 between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and also on Dec. 24 between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m., Noble said. Expect clogged roadways during these peak travel times.
Christmas Day is the most minimal traffic day expected, she said. If people are staying somewhat local, heading out on Christmas morning would be the ideal time.
For the return trip, busy traffic is expected on Dec. 30 as people try to get home for New Year’s. However, on New Year’s Eve, minimal traffic is expected.
On Jan. 2, the worst time to travel is between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
How can you have an uneventful travel experience?
Noble said to make sure the car is in good working order. Check the brakes, tires, and fluid levels. Make sure everyone in the vehicle is buckled up. Put down the phone while behind the wheel. Drive sober. If you see a broken-down car on the side of the road or emergency vehicles on the shoulder, please slow down and move over.
From Dec. 23, 2021, through Jan. 2, 2022, AAA Clubs of New Jersey serviced more than 21,000 vehicles. That included more than 8,800 tows, 4,500 battery replacements, 3,300 flat tires, nearly 1,900 jump-starts, and more than 1,500 lockouts.
This holiday season, AAA projects a 5% increase in service calls, nearly 900,000.
Always pack your patience so everyone can arrive at their holiday destinations safely, Noble said.