For the first time on record, an estimated 100.5 million Americans — nearly 1 in 3 people — will travel more than 50 miles over the 12 days of the upcoming Christmas holiday.
The record number represents a 1.4% increase over last year and is the seventh consecutive year of year-end holiday growth for travel between December 23, 2015 and Jan. 3, 2016.
Of the overall 100.5 million travelers:
- Nearly 91% (91.3 million) plan to travel by motor vehicle;
- 5.7% plans to fly; and
- The remaining 3.4% (3.4 million) travelers will take some other mode of transportation, including one traveler who plans to make a round-the-world journey by sleigh late Dec. 24.
Increases in travel from New England are expected to outpace the national increases, AAA says. More than 4.3 million New Englanders are expected to travel, up 2.2% over last year. More than 3.8 million are expected to drive to their destinations, 2.4% more than in 2014.
What’s filling our travel stockings this year? Rising incomes, lower gas prices, higher employment and low crude oil prices are prompting a record number to spend savings on trips.
By Christmas, the national average price for a gallon of gas is expected to fall below the $2 mark, with most U.S. drivers paying the lowest gas prices on New Year’s Day since 2009.
Today’s (Dec. 15) national average price of $2.01 is $.54 cents less than last year. AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest gas prices on New Year’s Day since 2009. In Connecticut, gas prices today (Dec. 15) average $2.20, $.71 cents less than this time last year.
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index:
- Airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes are 6% lower — an average of $174 — this holiday season.
- AAA Three Diamond Rated lodgings will cost are 4% higher this year, with travelers spending an average of $150 per night.
- AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel prices have risen 11% with an average nightly cost of $119.
- Daily car rental rates will average $68, 3% higher than last year’s holiday travel season.
AAA To The Rescue
During the 12-day holiday travel period, AAA expects to rescue nearly 900,000 motorists nationwide because of dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires. AAA recommends motorists check the condition of their battery and tires for winter driving before heading out on a holiday getaway.
Don’t Let The ‘Spirits’ Move You
AAA reiterates the dangers of impaired driving this holiday season. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Traffic Safety Culture Index, 1 in 5 licensed drivers (21%), who drink at least occasionally, reported they’ve driven even though they believed their alcohol level might have been close to, or possibly over, the legal limit in the past year.
In that same research, however, 97% of licensed drivers said it is unacceptable to drive if they’ve had too much to drink, yet there’s an average of one alcohol-impaired driving death every 53 minutes.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.
AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit auto club with 61 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York providing more than 5.2 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.