Ohioans’ holiday travel expected to hit near-record numbers starting Saturday

More than 40 percent are expected to travel 50-plus miles from home during the holidays, which AAA calls the second-busiest year this century



Ohioans are expected to travel in greater numbers this holiday season across all modes of transportation.

Approximately 4.7 million Ohioans (40 percent of us) will travel 50 miles or more from home over the 10-day year-end holiday travel period, which is defined as Dec. 23, 2023 through Jan. 1, 2024, according to AAA. The vast majority of those on the move — 4.3 million — are expected to travel by car, while nearly 270,000 Ohioans will travel by airplane this holiday season, making it the busiest air travel year since AAA began keeping track.

More than 168,000 are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, including bus, train and cruise.



For the Dayton metro area, which is defined as Montgomery, Miami, Greene and Clark counties, more than 389,000 residents are expected to travel. More than 353,000 are projected to travel by automobile, nearly 22,000 by airplane and more than 14,000 by other modes of transportation.

The total number of travelers, both statewide and from the Dayton area, is a 2.6% increase compared to last year and the second highest year-end travel forecast since 2000 when AAA began tracking holiday travel. Increases in automobile, airplane and other modes, represent increases of 2.2%, 3.6% and 13.1%, respectively, AAA said.

Kris Sproles of Huber Heights said he’ll be traveling by car with his family to Chester, West Virginia. He said he’s been planning the nearly 240-mile trip for “probably about a couple months.”

“We’ve done this trip before and I actually don’t mind traveling by car on Christmas Day because it isn’t as busy,” Sproles said. “We’re traveling basically on I-70 for three-and-a-half hours.”

Sproles said his advice to travelers is to leave a little early, “but usually the traffic isn’t too bad on Christmas Day.”

“Just make the best of it,” he said. “Just enjoy the time. If you’re traveling with family ... on the holidays, just be thankful you’re with your family during the holidays. A lot of people aren’t.”



Rylan Williams of Dayton said he’ll be driving to Tennessee for the holiday. He said he’s been planning the trip for six months and given the choice between flying or driving somewhere, he’d rather drive.

His advice to traveling this time of year is to just “enjoy yourself.”

“Enjoy the trip, enjoy the time with the family, but also, just take your time for safety reasons,” Williams said.

Linda Hughes, spokeswoman for Dayton International Airport, said the airport, plus its airlines, tenants and concessionaires are all informed ahead of time as to the number of possible passengers it may have flying through the airport during the holiday season.

“They all staff and equip themselves accordingly,” she said. “Likewise, weather forecasts are also taken into consideration in order to prepare for all scenarios.”

For those who plan to hit the road this holiday season, nearly 13 weeks of consecutive declines in gas prices are making travel more affordable. Motorists in the Dayton, Springfield and Cincinnati areas are paying 62 cents, 59 cents and 43 cents less than what they paid for gas one month ago, respectively, according to AAAgasprices.com data on Friday. Compared to a year ago, prices in those areas are down 21 cents, 17 cents and 44 cents, respectively.

AAA Club Alliance spokeswoman Kara Hitchens said pent-up demand for travel has been a commonly occurring theme throughout this year.

“Whether people are hitting the road for a visit with friends and family, or planning a more significant getaway, there is little discouraging them,” Hitchens said.