Travel throughout the world has steadily increased in 2015, and experts expect the numbers to keep rising throughout the first quarter of 2016. Even countries like Turkey and Russia that have seen heavier amounts of turmoil in 2015 were some of the most traveled to places in the world. As we’ve reached the holiday season, travel has increased and is expected to to continue to rise throughout January and February as travelers head home, overseas and down south for the holidays.

Thanks to cheaper gas prices in the United States, more people traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday in 2015 than in previous years. In fact, gas prices haven’t been this low since 2008. Lower gas prices also mean that travel has risen in countries outside of the Unites States. Although airlines are still charging for extra baggage and premium seats, lower gas prices mean bidding wars between airline companies.

Top Year in Tourism
Revenues have risen in the tourism industry in 2015. Overall, tourism grew over four percent this year. The state of Virginia saw revenues of over 22.4 billion last year. In March, the World Travelers Tourism Council estimated that tourism in the United States would contribute to 10 percent of the GDP.

Top Countries
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The top 10 countries to visit in July, August and September of 2015 were the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, France, Portugal, Spain, Germany and Italy. The United States, the United Kingdom and France often make the top 10 list, so there’s no surprises there. Thailand, which is quite popular with Asians and Australians was also no surprise. Even though both Russia and Turkey had some heavy turmoil over the summer, the two still made the top 10 list.

Top Months in July, August and September 2015
Most travelers choose to hit their destinations in June, July and August. This year, the most travel searches were completed for June and September, rounding out at 34 percent of searches for July, August and September. August was close behind with 32 percent of searches. When it came to travel, most adventurers chose to head to their destinations in September, though. The month saw a whopping 37 percent of the travel of all three months. July was close behind with 34 percent of all travel, and August was in the rear with 30 percent of all travel.

Top United States Destinations

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Within the United States, a few destinations stood out above the rest. Some of the most sought-after cities included New York City, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami and Los Angeles. While it’s no surprise any of these cities made the cut, only New York City, Las Vegas and Miami stayed consistently busy throughout all three months. Other contenders included Cancun and Orlando for Labor Day. Looks like there were plenty of families ready to hit the theme parks before the first day of school. Evidently every month is a good one for pumping coins into slot machines and taking a bite out of the Big Apple.

Projected Holiday Travel 
One of the most popular times to travel in the United States is Thanksgiving weekend, which always sees huge surges in travelers. While many travelers try to head out to New York City for the tree lighting and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, many also seek a little extra sun and plan on heading to Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean to say thanks. The top destinations for Thanksgiving Weekend are New York City, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Most travelers aim to make their vacation between four and five days. Only 20 percent of travelers stay between two and three days. 11 percent of travelers will vacation for more than six days, and the least percentage (two percent) will stay under two days.

Holiday Travel Factors

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Travel in the United States is rising partially due to falling gas prices. Many Americans will enjoy lower gas prices and drive to their destinations for the first time in years. AAA expects to rescue over 1.1 million drivers that are expected to hit the streets between December 23 and January 4. Though hotel prices have increased slightly over the past year, experts don’t expect to see any drops due to the higher costs.

Those planning to travel outside of the United States for the holidays might want to avoid December 19—the busiest travel day of the season. Even Americans might want to avoid this date as it is the second craziest day to travel—the first being December 23.

2016 Holiday Travel
Though many travelers plan to take a break from planes, trains and automobiles after New Year’s weekend, some expect their travels to keep getting better at the beginning of 2016. Throughout the month of February many travelers will begin escaping harsh winters by heading south in search of warmer climates. Travelers in Asia will be expected to book a Japan Tour as the Lunar New Year approaches on February 8. The warmer Japan weather typically attracts tourists seeking a culinary, cultural and architectural experience. From Japan’s Irimoya roofs to their unique use of barn door hardware, Japan offers a very aesthetic experience. Travelers from Thailand and Australia are also expected to jump on board the travel boat anywhere between February 4 and February 9.

Don’t get stuck traveling on one of the most coveted travel days of the year. By staying abreast of some of the nuttiest days to travel and steering clear of the roads and airways, travelers can sneak through the holidays with a little less stress—and a little extra cash in their wallets.

By:  Vincent Stokes