Ahead of Christmas, Arrivalist was forecasting that just over 103 million Americans would be traveling via car this year during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays (December 22, 2021 through January 2, 2022).
The prediction calls for 33.6% more people traveling this season compared with the same period last year, just 1.6% lower than the 2019 pre-pandemic holiday season.
“We predict that road trips will continue to dominate over the holiday break,” said Arrivalist Founder and CEO Cree Lawson. “The news about the new Omicron variant is likely to have a much bigger impact on air travel than road trips. Over the last couple of weeks, 2021 road trip activity has been on par with 2019 volume, despite the increase in COVID-19 cases across the country.
Weekly trends detailed in Arrivalist’s Daily Travel Index show that recently the difference in car traveler volumes when comparing 2021 to 2019 levels is less than 0.5%, which means that the road-trip trends for this time of year are mirror those of 2019.
“The impact of the new Omicron variant on road trip travel is still unclear,” Lawson said. “As such, any significant increase in activity from the variant over the next two weeks could dampen the results by a few percentage points.
Arrivalist’s U.S. Daily Travel Index represents a measurement of daily road trip activity among the residents of all 50 states, using a representative balanced panel of GPS signals that excludes commuter travel or frequently repeated trips, like cargo deliveries.
The Daily Travel Index takes various factors into account when calculating the data, including increasing COVID-19 cases, projected COVID-related deaths, recent road trip activity (measured using GPS signals) and past seasonality trends.