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Counties and States That Traveled the Most Over Christmas

Counties and States That Traveled the Most Over Christmas

As 2020 came to a close, the coronavirus pandemic continued to spread throughout the United States. The CDC recommended that Americans postpone their holiday travel plans and stay home in order to protect themselves and their loved ones. Although holiday travel was down significantly compared with the previous year, the Wednesday before Christmas was the busiest travel day at airports since pandemic restrictions began in March, exceeding the previous high set during Thanksgiving. In this study, AdvisorSmith examined anonymized records from mobile devices around the country to find the U.S. states and counties where people took the most trips over the Christmas holiday.

In this analysis, we considered trips of at least 100 miles or further. To determine the counties and states with the most Christmas travel, we counted the number of trips on a per capita basis taken by residents of each county and state as measured by anonymized mobile device data. We considered all trips taken between Dec. 20, 2020, and Dec. 26, 2020, in our analysis. Nationwide, there was an average of 36 trips taken per 1,000 people per day during this period.

Large Counties With the Most Christmas Travel

In large counties with over 100,000 residents, the average number of trips per 1,000 people per day taken over the week of Christmas was 37. Wisconsin had the highest number of large counties in the top 50, with six counties, followed by Georgia with five, and Texas and Missouri with four each.

CountyStateTrips per 1,000 People
1Woodbury CountyIA106.0
2Coconino CountyAZ102.5
3Lowndes CountyGA94.5
4Webb CountyTX93.6
5La Crosse CountyWI87.4
6Navajo CountyAZ81.7
7Washington CountyUT80.6
8Houston CountyGA76.1
9San Juan CountyNM74.6
10Midland CountyTX74.1
11St. Lawrence CountyNY72.5
12Winnebago CountyWI72.3
13Minnehaha CountySD70.9
14Do├▒a Ana CountyNM69.6
15Lackawanna CountyPA68.9
16Imperial CountyCA68.7
17Tom Green CountyTX67.8
18Shasta CountyCA67.6
19Onondaga CountyNY66.9
20Brown CountyWI66.5
21Sheboygan CountyWI65.9
22Cass CountyND65.6
23Deschutes CountyOR65.6
24Greene CountyMO64.8
25DeSoto CountyMS64.6
26Lexington CountySC64.3
27Franklin CountyMO63.0
28Coweta CountyGA62.3
29Boone CountyMO61.7
30Kern CountyCA61.2
31Smith CountyTX61.2
32Cumberland CountyPA60.8
33Marathon CountyWI60.4
34Mohave CountyAZ60.0
35Hamilton CountyTN59.9
36Shelby CountyTN59.2
37Elkhart CountyIN59.1
38Faulkner CountyAR59.1
39Blount CountyTN58.7
40Eau Claire CountyWI58.7
41Hanover CountyVA58.3
42Douglas CountyGA58.1
43Douglas CountyOR57.7
44Jefferson CountyNY57.6
45Iredell CountyNC57.4
46Sarpy CountyNE57.3
47Sebastian CountyAR57.0
48Washington CountyAR56.7
49Jasper CountyMO56.7
50Bibb CountyGA56.4

Midsize Counties With the Most Christmas Travel

The average number of trips in midsize counties was 53 per 1,000 people over Christmas week. For midsize counties, Wisconsin and Missouri had the highest number of counties in the top 50, with five counties each. These states were followed by New Mexico and Kansas, with four counties each in the top 50.

CountyStateTrips per 1,000 People
1Lea CountyNM142.2
2Monroe CountyWI140.7
3Webster CountyMO137.1
4McKinley CountyNM134.8
5Adair CountyMO126.1
6Ford CountyKS124.3
7Sunflower CountyMS118.9
8Buffalo CountyNE112.4
9Sanpete CountyUT112.0
10Oconto CountyWI111.4
11Texas CountyMO109.9
12Douglas CountyMN107.4
13Howell CountyMO106.9
14Laclede CountyMO105.5
15Lyon CountyKS104.9
16Finney CountyKS102.9
17Apache CountyAZ102.8
18Union CountyMS102.4
19Trempealeau CountyWI102.1
20Ellis CountyKS101.3
21Iron CountyUT100.5
22Grant CountyNM100.4
23Laurens CountyGA99.8
24Maverick CountyTX99.8
25Plymouth CountyIA98.6
26Lincoln CountyWI97.6
27Gladwin CountyMI97.3
28Monroe CountyGA97.2
29Box Elder CountyUT96.8
30Montgomery CountyKY96.6
31Carter CountyTN95.7
32Jefferson CountyTN95.6
33Adams CountyMS94.7
34Otero CountyNM94.5
35Montgomery CountyVA94.4
36Morrison CountyMN94.2
37Brown CountyTX93.2
38Laramie CountyWY92.2
39Scotland CountyNC92.2
40Glenn CountyCA91.6
41Cerro Gordo CountyIA91.2
42Calumet CountyWI91.1
43Le Flore CountyOK91.0
44Carter CountyKY90.4
45Hall CountyNE90.3
46Webster CountyIA90.0
47Augusta CountyVA89.5
48Wythe CountyVA89.3
49Tift CountyGA89.2
50LaGrange CountyIN89.1

Small Counties With the Most Christmas Travel

In small counties with between 10,000 and 25,000 residents, the average number of trips per 1,000 people per day over Christmas week was 73. Minnesota led small counties in the top 50 with five counties on the list. Other states with a high number of small county travelers included Georgia, Iowa, and Missouri with four counties each.

CountyStateTrips per 1,000 People
1Sevier CountyUT246.8
2Oregon CountyMO240.5
3Millard CountyUT222.4
4Oglala Lakota CountySD190.5
5Ripley CountyMO177.3
6Prowers CountyCO173.2
7Bethel Census AreaAK168.5
8Reeves CountyTX168.1
9Chickasaw CountyIA166.6
10Roosevelt CountyNM165.2
11Aitkin CountyMN165.1
12Dakota CountyNE163.9
13Cassia CountyID161.0
14Archuleta CountyCO160.8
15Wayne CountyMO159.6
16Pope CountyMN153.6
17Pecos CountyTX153.3
18Todd CountySD151.4
19Decatur CountyTN150.9
20Bacon CountyGA148.5
21Holt CountyNE148.4
22Cottonwood CountyMN148.0
23Adair CountyKY144.2
24Crisp CountyGA143.6
25Gooding CountyID136.4
26Keokuk CountyIA135.9
27Grayson CountyVA135.9
28Morrow CountyOR133.8
29Missaukee CountyMI131.3
30Kodiak Island BoroughAK130.8
31Poinsett CountyAR130.6
32San Juan CountyUT129.8
33Todd CountyMN129.6
34Beckham CountyOK128.2
35Bourbon CountyKS127.9
36Macon CountyGA127.7
37Trigg CountyKY126.4
38Houston CountyMN124.7
39Phillips CountyAR124.6
40O'Brien CountyIA124.5
41Kewaunee CountyWI124.4
42Yuma CountyCO123.3
43Washington CountyGA122.7
44Goshen CountyWY122.5
45Douglas CountyMO122.2
46Clay CountySD120.5
47Franklin CountyID118.1
48Garrard CountyKY118.0
49Jackson CountyIA117.9
50Converse CountyWY116.7

States With the Most Christmas Travel

The amount of Christmas travel on a per capita basis among the states and the District of Columbia varied widely. States which had the most trips taken were Wyoming, South Dakota, New Mexico, Iowa, and North Dakota. Residents of Northeast states including New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Washington, D.C. took the least number of trips, while the state with the least trips per capita was Hawaii.

RankStateTrips per 1,000 People
1Wyoming76.3
2South Dakota76.2
3New Mexico70.0
4Iowa64.8
5North Dakota61.7
6Nebraska60.1
7Arkansas57.2
8Kansas57.2
9Wisconsin52.2
10Mississippi51.6
11Tennessee51.2
12Kentucky51.0
13Missouri50.4
14Montana49.1
15Georgia47.6
16Oklahoma46.1
17Utah45.9
18Idaho45.7
19North Carolina44.7
20South Carolina44.1
21Minnesota43.7
22Alabama42.1
23Indiana42.1
24Louisiana41.7
25Virginia40.4
26West Virginia37.9
27Michigan37.8
28Arizona36.3
29Illinois36.0
30Texas35.7
31Colorado35.4
32Ohio34.5
33Pennsylvania34.1
34Maine33.2
35Oregon31.7
36Nevada31.6
37Florida28.6
38Washington26.3
39Alaska26.2
40Vermont26.2
41New York26.2
42Maryland26.1
43California26.0
44Delaware22.0
45New Jersey21.2
46Connecticut20.3
47Rhode Island17.9
48Massachusetts17.2
49New Hampshire16.8
50Washington, D.C.14.0
51Hawaii7.7

Methodology

To determine the U.S. counties and states with the most travel over the week of Christmas, AdvisorSmith used data published by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics. This data set included anonymized cell phone location data from multiple data sources that tracked the number of trips taken by county residents from over 3,000 U.S. counties. This data set counted a trip if a mobile device spent more than 10 minutes in a location away from home.

To find the counties with the most Christmas travel, we counted the average number of trips over 100 miles that were taken by residents of each county on a per capita basis. Counties with the highest number of trips per capita were determined to have the highest number of trips over Christmas week. We considered all travel between the dates of Dec. 20, 2020, and Dec. 26, 2020, to be Christmas travel.

Our analysis segmented counties into three categories based upon the population size of each county. Counties with between 10,000 and 25,000 residents were considered small counties. Counties with between 25,000 and 100,000 residents were midsize counties, and large counties were those with over 100,000 residents.

Sources

  1. U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Trips by Distance (Data Provided by Maryland Transportation Institute and Center for Advanced Transportation Technology Laboratory at the University of Maryland)
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