Travel peaks around the world in December due, in large part, to winter holidays celebrated within the month, including Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years. As a result, airports, railways, and roads are packed with people heading home or trying to get away. Globally, the most popular days that travelers have searched to fly, so far, are December 23 and 22—both days appear on the top departure dates for nearly every region.
While, globally, the biggest departure dates are later in the month, every region shows a different preference for departures, including:
- The busiest days for departures in the US are December 23, 22, and 26.
- Mexicans are some of the earliest travelers, looking to leave on December 9 and 8.
- The Middle East and Africa also have earlier departure dates: December 15, 22 and 16.
- Singapore has one of the earliest departure dates: December 23, 1, and 16. This differs dramatically from Japanese travelers looking to travel on December 29, 28, 30.
- European travelers are looking to depart close to Christmas: December 23, 26, and 22.
A few of the most interesting planning patterns revealed by Sojern’s Q3 Global Travel Insights report include:
1. North American travelers are looking for trips later in December.
In 2015, the report indicated that the most popular days to depart for Christmas were, in order, December 23, 19, and 18. This year, December 23, 22, and 26 are the most popular days, meaning travelers are looking for later departures than last year.
2. North American travelers look to travel farther in December than in any other month.
In August 2016, US travelers searched for flights averaging 2,000 miles, but in December, that average jumps to 3,177 miles, an increase of 37%. Early searches are looking to travel farther in December, we’ll see if that holds as more people plan their holiday getaways.
3. Middle Eastern & African are looking to leave the earliest.
The most popular December days for winter travel in North America and Europe are later in the month, closer to the Christmas holiday. Middle Eastern and African travelers, on the other hand, are looking for departures on December 15, 16, and 22, nearly a week ahead of Europe and North America.
4. Asia-Pacific planning shows lots of divergence for departures.
Singaporean travelers look to leave on December 23, 1, and 16. Japanese travelers, on the other hand, are most interested in departures at the end of the month: December 28, 29, and 30.
5. Mexican travelers are headed to the beach early.
The most popular days in December for departures to the beach are December 9, 8 and 1, in that order. Once there, 37% of Mexican travelers are looking to spend roughly a week (4-7 days) at the beach and 24% are looking for beach getaways for 12 days or more.