AAA estimates a record number of travelers this holiday season

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- AAA estimates about 107 million Americans will be traveling over the holidays.

After nine consecutive years of growth, the organization cites 2017 as being on trend to become the highest year-end travel season on record.

With relatively low gas prices, more than 97 million people are expected to hit the road, in the days before Christmas. Six million will take to the skies, and about another three million will ride the rails.

Despite the record-breaking numbers, holiday travel might not appear that busy to some travelers.

Whether you're traveling by plane, train, or automobile, it seems many people have someplace special to go this holiday weekend.

Holiday traveler Shannon Corcoran said "we're headed to Jupiter, Florida, eventually. It will be a long day of travel."

From Harrisburg International Airport, to local train stations and roadways, getting home for the holidays doesn't appear to be quite the same mad dash for travelers as it was at Thanksgiving.

Harrisburg International Airport deputy marketing manager Scott Miller said "the Christmas travel season is expanded over a week to ten days, versus Thanksgiving's four or five day period. So, today really kicks off the Christmas travel season."

AAA Central Penn public relations manager Doni Lee Spiegel said "Christmas Day being on Monday, travel will be anywhere from Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Actually, Christmas Day will be a good day to travel. If you can travel on the holiday, most people will already be at their destinations, so roadways may not be as bad on the holiday itself."

There are some things drivers who don't have the gift of patience can do before they hit the road.

"If you can avoid 83, 81, PA Turnpike, 581, Route 30, that will probably be best, even if you take a longer route, you could save a lot of time staying out of traffic," Spiegel said.

Meanwhile, flight patterns across the country are staring to look like the swarm before Christmas.

"Between now and January 2nd, we'll expect about 38 to 39,000 people coming in and out of the region by the airport here," Miller said.

"I like to get here early for the crowds, which it's not crowded, but other than that, we're very excited to connect with family," Corcoran said.

Passengers aren't the only ones making a connection this holiday season.

"This is the busiest time of year for UPS and FedEx, on the commercial side. It's not a lot different than a typical day," Miller said.

It's a busy time for sending presents, but Miller has a suggestion if you come to the airport bearing gifts.

"Do not wrap your packages if you're bringing things with you. They will be opened at the check point, and they will not be re-wrapped, you know, to make sure they know what's in there," Miller said.

Spiegel has a safe driving tip not just for the holidays, but all year long.

"Make sure you focus on the road and the traffic around you. If you have people in the car with you, designate a text messenger, and a navigator for you, so you can keep your eyes on the road, and concentrate on everything going on around you," Spiegel said.

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