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Why do we travel so much for the holidays?

Traveling for the holidays can sometimes feel like a chore, so why do we do it? Experts share their insight.
Why do we travel so much for the holidays?
Posted at 4:17 PM, Dec 21, 2023

Why is holiday travel an ever-increasing undertaking people do year after year? One expert says it's often connected to tradition. 

This year, AAA says more than 115 million people will be traveling for the holidays, but is there more to be said about the reason so many of us book a flight or load up the car to see our dearest who may not be so near?

"For travelers it really means the busiest airports they've ever seen at the end of the year," says Morgan Dean with AAA.

The company also says not only are flights slightly cheaper than previous years, but drivers will likely spend less on gas, no matter which state you fill up in. 

Whether you're visiting loved ones or trading in the snow for a sandy beach, the reasons for holiday travel vary.

SEE MORE: Holiday travel rush kicks off as Americans hit roads and airports

Michael Foley, a professor at Baylor University, says Christmas really didn't become family-centered until the 19th century. We see the trope play out in movies like "Home For The Holidays," "Love Actually" and "Home Alone," in which the McCallisters frantically rush to catch their flight to Paris and mistakenly leave Kevin behind.

"Christmas is one season that still has the most traditions attached to it in American life," said Foley, who is the author of "Why We Kiss Under The Mistletoe: Christmas Traditions Explained."

The holiday has changed over time, just as how we travel has evolved. 

From walking, to a horse and carriage, to walking to planes, trains, and automobiles, we've never had greater accessibility to traveling than we do right now, and the numbers show it. 

AAA says 90% of travelers this year will be in a car, and more than 6% will be flying. 

And for some, there really is no place like home sweet home.

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