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AAA: Holiday travel could break records

Heavy traffic departs from D.C. (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — If you are planning to travel for the holiday, know in advance that a record-breaking number of people will be keeping you company.

AAA Mid-Atlantic says that for the first time, 100.5 million Americans are expected to take a trip during the holiday season — Wednesday, Dec. 23, through Sunday, Jan. 3. That’s nearly one in three Americans, and 1.4 percent more than last year.

In the D.C. metropolitan area, about 2.5 million people will be traveling 50 miles or more: 41 percent of the area’s population of 6 million.

Tom Calcagni, director of public and government affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic, says, the numbers are up over last year.

“We expect the numbers in the metro area to be up about a little more than 1 percent.”

He says the price of gas, which around here is expected to drop below $2 a gallon, is a big reason why folks will be traveling: 90 percent of the nation’s travelers will be going by car.

Calcagni warns that the busiest time to travel will be the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 23.

He adds that AAA expects to rescue 900,000 people, including about 63,000 in this area.

“The thing you want to keep in mind is that you always have to be prepared for those things you can’t anticipate — a breakdown on a back road or something that may in fact keep you stuck in your car, like an unexpectedly bad snow or ice storm.”

He says it always makes sense, if you’re heading somewhere where it may snow, to have an extra blanket in your car, a snow shovel and kitty litter to put under your tires and you end up getting stuck.

The forecast for the D.C. region for Christmas calls for mild temperatures, although Christmas Eve could be rainy, says NBC Washington meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts.

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