Here are the worst times to drive in Atlanta for Christmas 2019

metro Atlanta traffic

More Americans than ever — 115.6 million — are expected to travel this holiday season

The most Americans on record are expected to travel this holiday season, so you may want to pack your patience before Christmas Day.

Data compiled by AAA reports 115.6 million people will travel from Saturday, Dec. 21, to Wednesday, Jan. 1. That’s an increase of 3.9 % over last year and more than 104 million folks plan on hitting the road.

“Holiday cheer is at an all-time high this year, with unemployment at historically low levels, and noted improvements in both disposable income and household net worth,” Paula Twidale, vice president of AAA Travel, said in a news release. “Travelers should be getting used to crowded highways and airports, as this marks the eighth straight year of new record-high travel volumes for the year-end holidays.”

Global travel analytics company INRIX anticipates delays to be the worst on Thursday, Dec. 26. Afternoon delays will almost double drive times across major U.S. cities.

In Georgia, more than 3 million travelers are expected, with 187,000 driving and just as many taking flight. That’s a 3.7% increase in Georgia drivers from last year and 4% increase from 2018 in those flying.

AAA predicts there will be only marginal delays during the holiday week. But U.S. drivers may see double the travel times on Thursday and Friday afternoon. In Georgia, the delays are expected to be 1.3 times the usual amount. In cities like New York and Washington, D.C., it could be three times as much.

Worst day to travel in Atlanta

Thursday, Dec. 26

Peak congestion period: 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

AAA encourages people to remain calm as they drive in order to avoid road rage incidents. Tips include not offending other drivers by forcing them to hit the brakes or change direction, remaining tolerant and forgiving, and not responding with eye contact or gestures.

But it’s not all bad. TripAdvisor search data obtained by Forbes says it’s best to fly Monday, Dec. 16, and Tuesday Dec. 17. You can also opt to fly on Christmas Eve for less, with the average domestic flight costing about $374.

This article was written by Kiersten Willis, with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.