Christmas Travel Picks Up Next Week: What To Expect In Washington

Christmas Travel

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. 

Christmas Travel

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. 

Christmas Travel

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

Christmas Travel

The vast majority of travelers will travel by car to their holiday destinations, and estimates show this year will be on par with 2018. 

Christmas Travel

Airports will be busy, too. AAA projects a 14 percent increase in air travel, with 7.2 million Americans taking to the skies.

Christmas Travel

Locally, the Washington State Department of Transportation said drivers should expect congestion on major routes between Dec. 23 and Dec. 26. 

Christmas Travel

 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.

Christmas Travel

The Christmas week charts are a little friendlier than their Thanksgiving counterparts, generally showing small pockets of congestion.

Christmas Travel

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.

Christmas Travel

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. 

Christmas Travel

Those headed south on I-5 should expect Friday and Monday to be the most difficult days.

Christmas Travel

Winter weather may add another layer of uncertainty. While it's still too early for specific snow forecasts over Christmas,

Christmas Travel

long-range outlooks favor wet weather returning over the last week of December as cold temperatures remain in place.

Christmas Travel

WSDOT encourages drivers to prepare their vehicles for winter weather, drive for the conditions and carefully follow posted chain requirements,

Christmas Travel

to help keep everyone safe and reduce the chance for resulting crashes and pass closures.

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