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AAA forecasts nearly 110 million will travel by Jan. 2

Posted at 11:30 AM, Dec 14, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — While higher prices may be the norm right now, it doesn't appear to be impacting the Christmas holiday travel plans for hundreds of millions of Americans.

Heather Allen will be visiting family in Chicago for Christmas. Like many people, it’s her first time traveling for the holidays, since the pandemic.

“We actually stayed put last year and we haven't seen this particular part of our family since 2019,” Allen said.

According to AAA estimates, more than 109 million people will travel at least 50 miles this year by driving, flying, or taking other transportation between December 23 and January 2. AAA said the numbers translate to an almost 34 percent increase over the same time in 2020.

“Americans who canceled their vacations in 2020 want to gather with family and friends for the holidays this year, although they will still be mindful of the pandemic and the new omicron variant,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “With vaccines widely available, conditions are much different and many people feel a greater level of comfort with travel.”

Tammy Gregory flew in from Ohio to spend the holidays in Tampa with her son.

“I do feel a lot safer now that the vaccine is out. We're wearing our mask and I'm doing my part,” Gregory said.

Tampa International Airport expects to see 75,000 travelers a day, during the holidays.

“We have increased our hours for all of our shops and restaurants. We are better staffed than we were this past summer. So we feel like we’re ready to handle the holiday traffic,” said Emily Nipps, Tampa International Airport spokesperson.

TPA recommends you reserve your parking spot online, ahead of time. The airport did see their garages fill up during the Thanksgiving weekend.

According to AAA, road trips remain the top way to travel during the holidays.

Gas prices, which had trended up nationally and in Florida, have started to stabilize and in some places slightly drop. According to AAA, gas prices have dropped between $0.02 and $0.04 in some locations around the country.

In Florida, gas prices are down about three cents from last week and are roughly in line with where they were in the middle of November. Still, year-over-year gas prices are approximately $1.12 higher in Florida in 2021 with demand being much higher this year than in the first year of the pandemic.