SEATTLE — The last big holiday rush of 2022 is fast approaching, and more than 100 million Americans are expected to take trips over Christmas and New Year's Day.
Travel firm AAA projects 112.7 million people will travel at least 50 miles by land, sea, and air between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2.
That figure would make this holiday season the third-busiest for travel since AAA began tracking in 2000. This year, travel time will be extended due to Christmas Day and New Year's Day falling on Sundays
The vast majority of travelers will travel by car to their holiday destinations, and estimates show this year will be on par with 2018.
Airports will be busy, too. AAA projects a 14 percent increase in air travel, with 7.2 million Americans taking to the skies.
Locally, the Washington State Department of Transportation said drivers should expect congestion on major routes between Dec. 23 and Dec. 26.
WSDOT released its Christmas travel maps this week, which chart peak traffic times along Interstate 5, Interstate 90 and Highway 2, based on historical trends.
The Christmas week charts are a little friendlier than their Thanksgiving counterparts, generally showing small pockets of congestion.
On I-5, between Lacey and Tacoma, northbound drivers can expect elevated congestion on the Friday before Christmas Eve between the morning and early afternoon.
Moderate to heavy traffic will pick up a bit on Christmas Day, with the Monday and after Christmas likely seeing the longest period of heavy traffic.
Those headed south on I-5 should expect Friday and Monday to be the most difficult days.
Winter weather may add another layer of uncertainty. While it's still too early for specific snow forecasts over Christmas,
long-range outlooks favor wet weather returning over the last week of December as cold temperatures remain in place.
WSDOT encourages drivers to prepare their vehicles for winter weather, drive for the conditions and carefully follow posted chain requirements,
to help keep everyone safe and reduce the chance for resulting crashes and pass closures.