10:30 AM

Tennesseans will Travel in Near - Record Numbers for Christmas, New Year’s

An estimated 2.7 million Tennesseans are forecast to travel 50 miles or more

Year-End Holiday Travel Soundbites for Media

NASHVILLE, Tenn., (December 11, 2023) – AAA projects 2.7 million Tennesseans will travel 50 miles or more during the upcoming year-end holiday travel period*, spanning from December 23rd to January 1st. This year’s total number of travelers is a 3% increase over last year and the second highest year-end travel forecast volume since 2000 when AAA began tracking holiday travel. 2019 remains the busiest Christmas and New Year’s travel period on record in Tennessee, with 2.8 million travelers.


2023 (forecast)2.7 million2.5 million74,668107,569
20222.6 million2.4 million71,23898,170
20212.5 million2.4 million60,93280,389
20192.8 million2.6 million73,94997,493


“AAA has seen steady year-over-year growth in travel demand, culminating with what is expected to be the second-busiest year-end holiday travel season both in Tennessee and nationwide,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Despite various inflationary pressures, Americans are still willing to budget for travel. With a record number of travelers, the roads, airports and cruise lines will be more crowded than normal. So, finalize your travel plans now, anticipate longer lines, and give yourself extra time to get to your destination.”


National Travel Figures

·       115.2 million Total Travelers

o   2nd highest on record (2019)

o   2.5 million more than last year

·       103.6 million Auto Travelers

o   2nd highest on record (2019)

o   1.8 million more than last year

·       7.5 million Air Travelers

o   Record high

o   336,000 more than last year


Auto Travel

AAA expects road travel to be the second highest on record. More than 2.5 million Tennesseans will drive to their holiday destinations, an increase of 64,900 compared to 2022. As 2023 comes to a close, drivers can expect to pay about the same or less for a gallon of gas than they did last holiday season, when the Tennessee average on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day was $2.73 and $2.88, respectively.


Air Travel Soars to New Record Highs Nationwide; Third highest in Tennessee

Airports are expected to be the busiest they’ve ever been throughout the Christmas and New Year’s travel period. Nationally, AAA projects 7.5 million air travelers. That’s 200,000 more than the previous record set in 2019.


Meanwhile, over 74,000 Tennesseans are forecast to take a commercial flight. While that is 3,400 more than last year, it’s the third highest air travel volume on record, behind 2002 (97,859) and 2001 (83,380).


“AAA recommends booking flights as early as possible to ensure the best combination of price and availability,” Haas said. “Those waiting until the last minute could catch a discount but may have fewer options in terms of non-stop flights and seat availability. Whenever you book, it’s important to consider travel insurance.”


“Seemingly every year around this time we hear about winter weather that causes widespread cancellations or delays,” Haas continued. “That’s another reason why we encourage travelers to get travel insurance, which offers protection for covered expenses associated with flight cancellations, lost luggage, and on flights with delays of as little as three hours.”


Alternative Transportation to Surpass 2019 Volumes Nationwide

The number of people traveling by other modes, like bus, train, and cruise, is projected to surpass 2019. AAA expects more than 4 million Americans will take alternative transportation over Christmas and New Year’s compared to 3.66 million in 2022 and 3.89 million in 2019. Demand for cruises has skyrocketed post-pandemic, and the industry is now preparing for the wave of bookings that traditionally happens at the start of the new year.

“Savvy travelers know that right after the holidays is the best time to book a cruise,” Haas said. “That’s when cruise lines offer some of the best deals, and AAA members get exclusive benefits in addition to those discounts.”


Best/Worst Times to Drive and Peak Congestion by Metro  

INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, says there will be several days of potentially bad traffic during the 10-day holiday period. Saturday, December 23, and Thursday, December 28, will be the most congested days on the road. INRIX also says Saturday, December 30, when many people will be heading back home from their holiday destinations or traveling for New Year’s Eve, will see an increase in traffic compared to a normal Saturday. The best times to hit the road are before lunchtime or after 7pm.


Please note that the times listed below are for the time zone in which the metro is located.

For example, Atlanta routes = ET and Los Angeles routes = PT

Best and Worst Times to Travel by Car
DateWorst Travel Time

Best Travel Time

Saturday, Dec 2311:00 AM - 7:00 PM

Before 10:00 AM

Sunday, Dec 24Minimal Traffic Impact Expected
Monday, Dec 25Minimal Traffic Impact Expected
Tuesday, Dec 261:00 - 5:00 PM

Before 12:00 PM

Wednesday, Dec 271:00 - 7:00 PM

Before 12:00 PM

Thursday, Dec 282:00 - 8:00 PM

Before 12:00 PM

Friday, Dec 292:00 - 8:00 PM

Before 12:00 PM

Saturday, Dec 305:00 - 7:00 PM

Before 12:00 PM

Sunday, Dec 31Minimal Traffic Impact Expected
Monday, Jan 01Minimal Traffic Impact Expected




Top Destinations

This holiday season, many travelers are heading to warm weather destinations like Florida and the Caribbean, tourist hotspots like New York and Las Vegas, and European cities like London and Rome. Here are the top domestic and international destinations based on AAA flight booking data.




Orlando, FL

London, England

Anaheim, CA

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Chicago, IL


Charlotte, NC

Dublin, Ireland

Miami, FL

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Atlanta, GA

Rome, Italy

Las Vegas, NV

Reykjavík, Iceland 

New York, NY

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Phoenix, AZ

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Houston, TX

Costa Rica


Airport Parking Tips

With a record number of air travelers expected this holiday season, AAA recommends travelers plan ahead and take precautions when driving to the airport and parking their vehicles.

  • Reserve a parking spot ahead of time to save time and money. 
  • Choose a well-lit, secure garage. 
  • On-site garages tend to be more expensive but offer convenience and peace of mind given their proximity to the terminals. 
  • If choosing off-site parking, look for reputable businesses like The Parking Spot, which is securely fenced and offers a shuttle to the airport (AAA members get a discount). 
  • Opt for covered parking if you live in an area expecting inclement weather.
  • Remove valuables from your vehicle. 
  • Lock doors and roll up windows.
  • Take a photo of your spot to remember where you parked.
  • Keep your ticket – and receipt, if you prepaid – handy to show when exiting.


Holiday Forecast Methodology  


Travel Forecast 

In cooperation with AAA, S&P Global Market Intelligence developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from S&P Global Market Intelligence’s proprietary databases. These data include macroeconomic drivers such as employment, output, household net worth, asset prices, including stock indices, interest rates, housing market indicators, and variables related to travel and tourism, including gasoline prices, airline travel, and hotel stays. AAA and S&P Global Market Intelligence have quantified holiday travel volumes going back to 2000. 

Historical travel volume estimates come from DK SHIFFLET’s TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/MonitorSM. The PERFORMANCE/MonitorSM is a comprehensive study measuring the travel behavior of U.S. residents. DK SHIFFLET contacts over 50,000 U.S. households each month to obtain detailed travel data, resulting in the unique ability to estimate visitor volume and spending, identify trends, and forecast U.S. travel behavior, all after the trips have been taken.

The travel forecast is reported in person-trips. In particular, AAA and SPGMI forecast the total U.S. holiday travel volume and expected mode of transportation. The travel forecast presented in this report was prepared the week of October 9, 2023.

*Year-End Holiday Travel Period 

For the purposes of this forecast, the year-end holiday travel period is defined as the 10-day period from Saturday, December 23, 2023 to Monday, January 1, 2024. 

About S&P Global 
S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI) provides essential intelligence. We enable governments, businesses, and individuals with the right data, expertise, and connected technology so that they can make decisions with conviction. From helping our customers assess new investments to guiding them through ESG and energy transition across supply chains, we unlock new opportunities, solve challenges, and accelerate progress for the world. We are widely sought after by many of the world’s leading organizations to provide credit ratings, benchmarks, analytics, and workflow solutions in the global capital, commodity, and automotive markets. With every one of our offerings, we help the world’s leading organizations plan for tomorrow today. For more information, visit

About DKSA 

DK SHIFFLET boasts the industry’s most complete database on U.S. resident travel both in the U.S. and worldwide. Data is collected monthly from a U.S. representative sample, adding over 60,000 traveling households annually, and is used daily by leading travel organizations and their strategic planning groups. DK SHIFFLET is an MMGY Global company. 

About INRIX   

Founded in 2004, INRIX pioneered intelligent mobility solutions by transforming big data from connected devices and vehicles into mobility insights. This revolutionary approach enabled INRIX to become one of the leading providers of data and analytics into how people move. By empowering cities, businesses, and people with valuable insights, INRIX is helping to make the world smarter, safer, and greener. With partners and solutions spanning across the entire mobility ecosystem, INRIX is uniquely positioned at the intersection of technology and transportation – whether it’s keeping road users safe, improving traffic signal timing to reduce delay and greenhouse gasses, optimizing last mile delivery, or helping uncover market insights. Learn more at 

About AAA - The Auto Club Group

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 13 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 64 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.