Just weeks after the busiest Thanksgiving travel season in history, the hectic Christmas travel season is nearly upon us. And guess what? This Christmas travel season is expected to be the busiest ever!
According to AAA, 115.6 million Americans will travel between this Saturday, December 21, and Wednesday, January 1, which is 4.3 million (3.9%) more than during the same period last year. And “more than 104 million of those holiday travelers will drive to their destinations.” Roads in the U.S. are going to be extra congested over the next two weeks, but perhaps not as bad as you might think. NRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predicts “only marginal delays throughout the holiday week.”
But that doesn’t mean drivers shouldn’t prepare accordingly. For starters, some days will be much worse for drivers than others. Via AAA, INRIX expects “delays to be the worst on Thursday, Dec. 26, with afternoon delays reaching nearly double congestion-free drive times in major U.S. cities.” Traffic projections also vary by city, which is why INRIX additionally outlined the worst days to drive this Christmas in 10 American cities. These days, plus the worst two-hour window to drive on each day, are below.
The worst days to drive this Christmas travel season
For each city, INRIX listed the date and times that it expects traffic to be worst, plus (in parentheses) how many times worse the delays will be than average.
- Atlanta: Thursday, December 26, 4:30-6:30pm (1.3x)
- Boston: Friday, December 27, 4:00-6:00pm (1.5x)
- Chicago: Thursday, December 26, 4:45-6:45pm (1.3x)
- Detroit: Thursday, December 26, 4:30-6:30pm (1.4x)
- Houston: Friday, December 27, 4:30-6:30pm (1.8x)
- Los Angeles: Thursday, December 26, 4:25-6:25pm (1.6x)
- New York: Thursday, December 26, 4:15-6:15pm (2.7x)
- San Francisco: Thursday, December 26, 4:00-6:00pm (2.0x)
- Seattle: Friday, December 27, 4:15-6:15pm (1.2x)
- Washington, D.C.: Thursday, December 26, 4:00-6:00pm (3.0x)
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