Increased holiday travel in forecast for Oklahoma

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With the worst of the COVID pandemic behind us, Oklahoma will see an increase in approaching holiday travel, predicted AAA Oklahoma.
The organization came out with its holiday travel forecast on Monday, estimating nearly 1.1 million people in Oklahoma will travel 50 miles or more away from home from Dec. 23 to Jan. 2, 2023.
That’s an increase of 28,400 people statewide compared to last year and closing in on pre-pandemic numbers. 2022 is expected to be the third busiest year for holiday 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,” says Leslie Gamble, AAA Oklahoma’s Public Affairs and Government Relations Manager. “With hybrid work schedules, we are seeing more people take long weekends to travel because they can work remotely at their destination and be more flexible with the days they depart and return.”

2022 Projected Year-End Holiday Travelers – Oklahoma 

Total Population
2022 Travelers
Percent of population traveling
Percent change vs. 2021
Oklahoma TOTAL
Auto, Air & Other
Oklahoma Auto
% of people travel by car
Oklahoma Air
% of people travel by air
Oklahoma Other
(train, bus, cruise, etc.)
 of people travel by other modes
National TOTAL
333.1 million*
112.7 million
National Auto
90.4% of people travel by car
101.8 million
National Air
6.4% of people travel by air
7.17 million
National Other
(train, bus, cruise, etc.)
3.2% of people travel by other modes
3.66 million
*U.S. Census Bureau (v2021)/IHS Markit
“If the distance is not reasonable to drive, more people are taking to the air to maximize the time spent at their destination,” Gamble adds. “Conversely, if the travel distances are reasonable and more than one or two people in the household are taking the trip, it may be more cost-effective to drive rather than buy multiple air tickets, rent a car and spend more than they would like before the fun even begins.”
Busiest Corridors and Best/Worst Times to Travel
INRIX, a provider of transportation analytics and insights, expects the most congested days on the road to be Friday before Christmas, December 27 and 28, and on Monday, January 2, as travelers mix with commuters. Nationwide, drivers could see travel times up to 25% longer.
“With pre-pandemic levels of travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in and around major metro areas, with Tuesday, December 27 expected to be the nation’s worst day to travel,” says Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Our advice is to avoid traveling during peak commuting hours. If schedules allow, leave bright and early or after the afternoon commute.”
Best & Worst Times to Travel by Car
Worst travel time
Best travel time
4:00-7:00 PM
Before 2:00 PM, After 8:00 PM
12:00-6:00 PM
Before 11:00 AM, After 7:00 PM
12/25/22 – Minimal Traffic Expected
2:00-6:00 PM
Before 12:00 PM, After 7:00 PM
3:00-7:00 PM
Before 2:00 PM, After 8:00 PM
3:00-7:00 PM
Before 2:00 PM, After 8:00 PM
3:00-7:00 PM
Before 2:00 PM, After 8:00 PM
3:00-7:00 PM
Before 2:00 PM, After 8:00 PM
12/31/22 – Minimal Traffic Expected
1/1/23 – Minimal Traffic Expected
4:00-7:00 PM
Before 3:00 PM, After 8:00 PM
Source: INRIX
Holiday Forecast Methodology: A Brief Overview
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/Monitor SM. The PERFORMANCE/Monitor SM 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  S&P Global Market Intelligence forecast the total U.S. holiday travel volume and expected mode of transportation. The travel forecast presented in this report was prepared for the week of November 15, 2022.
Year-End Holiday Travel Period 
For purposes of this forecast, the year-end holiday travel period is defined as the 11-day period from Friday, December 23 to Monday, January 2. This period is the same length as the 2021/2022 year-end travel period.
The year-end holiday travel period can range from 10 to 13 days, depending on which day of the week Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall. All the year-end holiday periods contain two weekends.
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