The best and worst Christmas 2021 times to travel to Phoenix


PHOENIX, AZ – If you’re planning a Christmas vacation away from Phoenix this year, or have relatives coming to visit you in the valley, you are in good company.

Phoenix is ​​listed as the # 9 travel destination in the United States this holiday season, according to AAA. Other national cities with warmer climates top the list, with Orlando at No. 1 and Las Vegas at No. 3.

More than 109 million people in the United States plan to hit the road between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, according to the year-end travel forecast recently released by the AAA. This is a 34% increase from 2020, when most people were forced to cancel travel plans or hold smaller celebrations at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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This dramatic rebound – an additional 27.7 million people traveling – will bring this year’s figures to less than 8% of 2019 levels. Airlines will also see a 184% increase in the number of travelers over the year last.

“With the vaccines widely available, conditions are very different and many people feel more comfortable with travel,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in a press release.

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Car travel remains the preferred mode of travel during the holidays. More than 100 million people plan to reach their destinations by car after gasoline cost $ 1.25 a gallon more than a year ago. More than 6 million people are expected to travel by air, while 3 million people book buses, trains and cruises.

AAA booking data through October shows travelers are heading to theme park-rich destinations such as Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California. Las Vegas, New York, and several other Florida cities also rank among the best.

Whether you plan to travel by plane, train, or automobile, those doing so in large urban cities are likely to see increased delays in areas where traffic jams are already common.

The transport analysis company INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, foresees only marginal delays throughout the holiday week. However, major metropolitan areas in the United States could see more than double the delays compared to typical driving times, while drivers in New York City are likely to experience more than three times the delays.

Delays in the valley could be made worse by rainy weather which is expected to hit the region late Thursday and continue through Christmas Day, according to a forecast by the National Weather Service.

Across the country, here are the best and worst times to travel on Christmas and New Years:

23 december

  • Worst journey time: 12 am-6pm
  • Best travel time: after 7 p.m.

December 24

  • Worst journey time: 2 p.m.-6 p.m.
  • Best travel time: before 1 p.m.

December 25th

  • Minimum size expected.

December 26

  • Worst travel time: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Best travel time: before noon.

December 27

  • Worst travel time: 5-6 p.m.
  • Best travel time: before 1 p.m.

December 28

  • Worst travel time: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Best travel time: before noon.

December 29

  • Worst travel time: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Best travel time: before 11 a.m.

December 30

  • Worst travel time: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Best travel time: before noon.

December 31st

  • Worst journey time: 2 p.m.-4 p.m.
  • Best travel time: Before 1:00 p.m.; after 5 p.m.

January 1st

  • Minimal congestion expected

January 2

  • Worst journey time: 2 p.m.-6 p.m.
  • Best travel time: before 1 p.m.

Travel costs

Travelers are also likely to experience higher prices and other changes compared to last year. AAA recommends that travelers book their flights, car rentals, accommodations and other activities as early as possible, as prices are not expected to drop as the holidays approach.

Traveling by plane: AAA flight booking data shows that Christmas week ticket prices are up 5% from a year ago, with the average round-trip fare lowest at $ 154. For those traveling around New Years, prices will be considerably higher, with the lowest average fare at $ 182.

Hotels: The cost of a night in mid-range hotels has increased by about 36%, with the nightly rate averaging $ 320 over Christmas and $ 267 on New Years.

Car Rental: Daily car rental rates average around $ 130, a 20% increase from last year.

Travel tips

Planning ahead can avoid a number of travel headaches, according to AAA:

  • Get to the airport early so you have plenty of time to clear the longer TSA lines and other travel control points. For domestic travel, AAA suggests two hours before the departure time and three hours for international travel.
  • Consider booking a flight during off-peak periods to reduce waiting times.
  • Hit the road when there is less traffic and allow more time to get to your destination.
  • Plan ahead. Check with state and local authorities where you are located, along your route and at your intended destination to learn more about local circumstances and any restrictions that may be in place.
  • Minimize stops along the way. Pack extra meals, snacks and drinks in addition to a roadside emergency kit.
  • Follow public health advice. Use face masks and remember to distance yourself socially. Wash your hands regularly and be sure to pack sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, and a thermometer to help protect and monitor your health.
  • Check with your hotel. Before any hotel stay, call ahead to make sure your hotel is open and ask what precautions it takes and what requirements are in place to protect guests.

For other helpful travel tips from the AAA, visit the organization’s COVID-19 travel restrictions map for the latest state and local travel restrictions. You can also use to plan your road trip and help you determine which rest areas, gas stations, restaurants, and hotels are open along your route.


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