BOISE – For many Americans, there’s no place like “roam” for the holidays.  According to AAA, 115.2 million travelers, including 660,000 Idahoans, will take a year-end vacation – nearly 2.5 million more people on the roads and in the skies than a year ago.

The Christmas travel season, with more vacationers than the 4th of July and Thanksgiving combined, will be the second busiest on record and will set a new record for air travel in the process.

“To put it in perspective, more than a third of the U.S. population will be on the move over a ten-day span.  That’s a lot of vehicle traffic and a lot of people at the airport,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “Getting an early jump will be the name of the game.”

The Christmas and New Year’s travel period runs from December 23 through January 1.

AAA projects that the busiest times on the road will be Saturday, December 23 and Saturday, December 30.  December 21 and 22 will also be very busy for airline travel.  Drivers will face fewer crowds before 10:00 AM on December 23 and before noon on the remaining days of the holiday.

Top ten year-end destinations for Idaho travelers

  1. Anaheim/Los Angeles
  2. Salt Lake City, UT
  3. Las Vegas, NV
  4. Orlando, FL
  5. Portland, OR
  6. Phoenix, AZ
  7. Seattle, WA
  8. Hawaii
  9. Bend, OR
  10. Reno, NV

Gas prices and crude oil dynamics

“While long-term consumer confidence is a bit shaky, people see family time over the holidays as an important investment in quality of life,” Conde said.  “Lower pump prices will help Idaho families put an extra tank of gas in the car and maybe an extra present or two under the tree.”

Today’s average price for a gallon of regular in the Gem State is $3.44, which is 11 cents less than a week ago, 35 cents less than a month ago, and 36 cents less than a year ago.  The national average currently sits at $3.15 per gallon, which is 9 cents less than a week ago, 22 cents less than a month ago, and 12 cents less than a year ago.

The falling cost of crude oil, combined with a significant rise in gasoline supplies, has recently placed additional downward pressure on gas prices.  The West Texas Intermediate benchmark for crude is currently trading near $71 per barrel, $2 less than a week ago and $7 less than a month ago.

With an 11-cent decrease this week, Idaho made the top ten list for biggest gas price drops from a week ago at #10.

The AAA mobile app helps travelers find the cheapest fuel and the location of EV charging stations in their area.  For additional information about hotels with EV charging capability, restaurants, and other points of interest, please consult AAA’s digital TourBooks at

Holiday travel by mode of transportation

90% of the total travelers for the holiday, or 104 million Americans, will go by car.  That’s an increase of nearly two million people from a year ago.  Another 7.5 million passengers, or 6.5%, will fly, an increase of 330,000 people from a year ago.  Travel by other modes, such as cruise ships, buses and trains, will increase by 11% to 4.1 million people.

“People want to travel on their terms.  For some, that means quickly reaching their destination.   For others, it’s all about the maximum flexibility that a personal vehicle provides,” Conde said.  “A cruise to a tropical destination – with all the arrangements covered – is always a popular choice, and for those who are on a budget or who don’t want to drive or deal with TSA lines, a bus or train may be a good fit.  Really, there are options for just about everyone.”

Regardless of your mode of transportation, AAA recommends arriving early to guard against any unforeseen delays.

AAA to the rescue

AAA anticipates 937,000 calls nationwide for emergency road service over the holidays, including nearly 1,800 calls here in Idaho.  Drivers should complete a pre-trip inspection of their car battery, engine fluids, hoses, and belts, and tires, or have these items checked by a trusted mechanic.

For a complete list of AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities in your area, visit

While 2023 Christmas and New Year’s travel volumes will take 2nd place overall, 2019 remains the busiest year on record with 119 million travelers. “If you’re still doing some holiday shopping but don’t want to carry bulky items in your car or onto an airplane, consider buying gift cards at your local grocery store,” Conde said.  “Not only will you have some great stocking stuffers that will easily pack into your luggage, but you may be able to rack up some fuel rewards in the process.”