This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SAN DIEGO — Americans are back traveling in earnest for this holiday season — 109 million people, a 34% increase from last year — will venture at least 50 miles or more between Thursday and New Year’s Day.

That statistic comes via AAA, which is back with their tips to make the Christmas travel as painless as possible. There may be no avoiding traffic if you’re leaving San Diego for a holiday destination on a tight schedule, but here’s when the auto club says you’re in the best shape for driving:

Dec. 23

  • Worst travel time: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. // Best travel time: After 7 p.m.

Dec. 24

  • Worst travel time: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. // Best travel time: Before 1 p.m.

Dec. 25 – Christmas Day

  • Minimal traffic all day – if you’re doing a shorter trip, your drive to Christmas morning with loved ones should be relatively painless — same goes for dinner later that evening.

Dec. 26

  • Worst travel time: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. // Best travel time: Before noon

Dec. 27

  • Worst travel time: 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. // Best travel time: Before 1 p.m.

Dec. 28, 29 and 30

  • Worst travel time: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. // Best travel time: Before noon (11 a.m. to be safe on the 29th)

Dec. 31 – New Year’s Eve

  • Worst travel time: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. // Best travel time: Before 1 p.m. and after 5 p.m.

Jan. 1 – New Year’s Day

  • Minimal traffic all day

Jan. 2

  • Worst travel time: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. // Best travel time: Before 1 p.m.

While these time periods are the auto club’s best guess, it’s worth noting that the holiday travel forecast could vary a little more than usual this season.

“AAA notes that the actual number of travelers could fluctuate as we approach the holidays,” the auto club’s Ellen Edmonds wrote. “Some people may decide to stay home if there is an increase in reported COVID-19 cases or because of concerns about the omicron variant, while others may note the progress in vaccinations and make last-minute decisions to travel.”

For all the San Diegans who are going out of town this week, plenty of other travelers will be visiting America’s Finest City. AAA lists San Diego in the top 10 for U.S. holiday destinations.

They won’t necessarily get our vintage sunny skies. To start the busy travel period, San Diego’s weather forecast has a pair of storms that should make for a rainy Christmas (and even a snowy one, for local mountains).

If you’re trying to avoid wet roads, leave as early as possible Thursday morning. The bulk of the weather system is expected to arrive later in the afternoon and evening, then linger into Friday. Christmas will be cloudy with scattered showers, according to the latest models. Read more on the coming storm here.