Travel during Christmas expected to reach record high - - Columbia, South Carolina

Travel during Christmas expected to reach record high

(Source: AAA) (Source: AAA)
Bad weather could affect travel plans for millions of people this weekend. (Source: Bad weather could affect travel plans for millions of people this weekend. (Source:

(RNN) - More people are expected to take automobile trips of 50 miles or more between Saturday and Jan. 1, contributing to half a million more people than last year who will travel during the holiday season.

According to AAA, a total of 94.5 million people in the U.S. are projected to travel for Christmas and New Year's, a record number since the organization began recording such data in 2001. It is the fifth consecutive year there has been a rise in the number of travelers for the year-end holidays.

"Of all the travel holidays, the year-end holiday season remains the least volatile as Americans will not let economic conditions dictate their travel plans to celebrate the holidays," AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney said in a statement.

About 85.8 million people will travel by car this year, more than one-fourth of Americans, a nearly 1 percent increase over 2012. However, air travel is expected to decline slightly.

The calendar is making the most positive impact on people who are planning their trips, according to AAA.

Since the Christmas holiday falls on a Wednesday, people have more flexibility to start their trips earlier or extend it through the weekend.

But people who gas up their cars or book their tickets for this weekend will run into more problems, according to senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski with

Rain, ice, snow and fog will hit parts of the Midwest, East Coast and Northwest beginning Friday and extending into next week.

Sosnowski predicted heavy rain and dense fog particularly for Dallas; Memphis; Atlanta; Cincinnati; Washington, DC; Philadelphia; New York City and Boston. With that rainfall comes the chance for urban flooding.

Parts of the South could also see severe thunderstorms as a result of record high temperatures that may push their way upward.

AAA is expecting to rescue more than 3 million people stranded on the roadways within the next few weeks. The company recommends travelers check their batteries and tires and prepare their automobiles for wintry driving conditions before getting on the road.

Gas prices have increased slightly from November but should still be lower than this time last year.

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