AAA: Need keeps driving year-round vacation vacation

A strong desire to travel has been driving holiday travel volume all year, and the end of the year holiday season is no exception. Airports across the nation will be especially busy this year with record-breaking numbers.

“If there is one thing we have seen throughout the year, it is pent-up demand for travel,” said Rylie Fletcher, public affairs manager, AAA Oklahoma. “Whether people are hitting the road for a visit with friends and family, or planning a more significant getaway, there is little discouraging them.”

AAA expects both the roads and the airports to be extremely busy from Dec. 23 through New Year’s Day, as they have been over most holiday weekends this year.

Nationally, AAA projects 115.2 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home over the 10-day year-end holiday travel period. This year’s total number of travelers is a 2.2% increase over last year and the second highest year-end travel forecast since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000.

In Oklahoma, AAA projects nearly 1.1 million Oklahomans will travel over the 10-day year-end holiday travel period. That is a 1.2% increase over last year.


Road travel

Most holiday travelers are going by car as AAA expects nearly 104 million people will drive to their holiday destinations, an increase of 1.8% compared to 2022. Locally, it is expected that over 1 million Oklahomans will drive.


Air travel

AAA projects 7.5 million air travlers across the country this holiday season, suprassing 2019’s record of 7.3 million passengers. In Oklahoma, that number is also up this year. Over 52,000 Oklahomans will fly for the holiday.

A closer look at Oklahoma’s projected year-end holiday travelers reveals lots of traffic on the road and in the air.


Gas prices

The national gas price average has been trending downward for the better part of three months now, with prices hovering around $3.10. In Oklahoma, gas price averages are even lower, hovering around $2.60.

“As we close out 2023, holiday motorists are getting the gift of lower prices at the pump,” Fletcher said.


AAA offers tips to increase safety and reduce stress:

Work with a Trusted Travel Advisor – AAA strongly suggests working with a travel advisor who can help navigate any issues that may arise, and advise as to the best, safest options. Book a Vehicle Checkup Today – Whether driving to your year-end destination or driving to the airport, basic vehicle maintenance reduces your risk of a breakdown or battery failure. Expect Delays and Plan Accordingly – Whether you are planning to drive or fly to your holiday destination, give yourself extra time. Drivers should travel at off-peak times if possible. Flyers should get to the airport at least two hours prior to their flights if traveling domestically, three hours if traveling internationally.Consider Travel Insurance – Travel insurance is relatively inexpensive for the peace of mind it provides in return by policies differ. AAA recommends insurance that allows travelers to “cancel for any reason.” A recent AAA survey found that about a third of all travelers are more likely to consider purchasing travel insurance specifically because of the pandemic.Download the Airline’s App – Flyers will get up-to-date information on any flight status – any delays, cancellations and even gate changes.Take Additional Precautions.


“Always travel with a fully-charged cellphone and program the AAA Roadside Assistance number or download the AAA app so you always know who to contact in the event you end up on the roadside,” Fletcher said.


Slow down, move over

AAA reminds drivers that “move over” laws exist in all 50 states. The laws aim to better protect tow truck drivers, road construction workers and other first responders.

Oklahoma’s current move over law requires motorists to:

Move over or slow down when passing an emergency vehicle on the roadside.Move over or slow down when passing any vehicle displaying flashing signals/lights.


Safety recommendations for drivers

Remain alert, avoid distractions and focus on the task of driving.Keep an eye out for situations where emergency vehicles, tow trucks, utility service vehicles or disabled vehicles are stopped on the side of the road.When you see these situations, slow down and, if possible, move one lane over and away from the persons and vehicles stopped at the roadside.

“Slow down, move over’ is an important message for drivers year-round, and especially at night. Data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that more than 75% of roadside deaths occur after dark.