Last Updated on December 20, 2017 6:00 am
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (December 19, 2017) A record breaking 4.5 million Carolinians plan to travel during the year-end holiday season this year, which is a 3.1 percent increase from last year. AAA Carolinas forecasts approximately 3.1 million North Carolinians and 1.4 South Carolinians will travel by automobiles, planes, trains and other modes of transportation. The year-end holiday period is defined as Saturday, Dec. 23 through Monday, Jan. 1.
The majority of travelers will be driving to their destinations, with close to 2.8 million North Carolinians and just over 1.3 million South Carolinians hitting the roads over the 10 day holiday period.
“Higher prices at the gas pumps are not preventing Carolinians from getting behind the wheel to visit with family and friends,” said Dave Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. “With record numbers on the road, we want to remind everyone to buckle up, never drink and drive, eliminate distractions and exercise patience to help prevent road rage.”
Carolinians driving to their holiday destinations will encounter higher gas prices than last year. North Carolina's current average is $2.31, compared to $2.18 last year. With the lowest average in the nation, South Carolina is currently at $2.16 compared to last year's $2.03.
AAA Carolinas recommends that motorists avoid driving through major cities during peak travel times. The best times to leave are typically early morning or after the morning commute because the roads should be less crowded and motorists will have more time to reach their destinations safely. Traveling on the holiday itself often results in fewer cars on the road.
Additionally, AAA offers the following holiday road survival tips:
- Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads.
- Keep valuables in the trunk or covered storage area.
- Have your roadside assistance contact information on hand in case an incident occurs on the road.
- Keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times, in case of emergency.
- Obey traffic safety laws: Wear your seatbelt. Don't speed. Don't drink and drive. Eliminate distractions behind the wheel, such as mobile devices.Disconnect and drive.
- Before hitting the road, make sure your vehicle is road-trip ready. Stop by a trusted repair shop for an inspection.
An estimated 170,000 North Carolinians and 85,000 South Carolinians will travel by air during the year-end holiday. Many Carolinians are choosing to travel to vacation destinations during this period. The top year-end holiday destinations based on AAA Carolinas traveling bookings are:
- Western Caribbean Cruise
- Eastern Caribbean Cruise
- Dominican Republic
- New York City
- North Carolinas
- Las Vegas
Airports will be busy and security lines may be longer than usual around the holidays. Travelers should plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to the scheduled departure of the flight. During peak travel times, travelers should contact their airline for guidance, as it may be necessary to arrive even earlier. This time of year travelers need to also be aware of potential weather delays. It's important for passengers to check their flight status regularly before traveling to the airport. To expedite travel , AAA recommends enrolling in programs such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.
AAA Carolinas estimates approximately 65,000 North Carolinians and 35,000 South Carolinians will use other modes of transportation, including trains, buses and rails.
Since the majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations, AAA Carolinas – the leader in roadside assistance – expects to rescue over 20,000 motorists during the year-end holiday period. Car battery-related issues, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA is called over the holidays.