More than 103 million Americans – the most on record – are expected to travel for the year-end holidays, according to AAA. This represents a 1.5 percent increase, or 1.5 million more people traveling, compared with last year. This comes despite one fewer travel day this holiday season. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Friday, December 23 to Monday, January 2, 2017.
The increase in holiday travel this year is being driven by additional consumer spending, a result of improvements in the labor market and rising wages. Additionally, low gas prices and increased consumer optimism will prompt more Americans than ever to set out on road trips, take to the skies, or board trains, buses and cruise ships to celebrate the holidays.
AAA’s South Atlantic region includes Delaware, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Its year end holiday forecast includes:
- Year End holiday travelers will total 19.42 million, an increase of 2.2% from the 19.0 million in 2015.
- 64 million will travel by automobile, up 2.3% from last year’s number of 17.25 million.
- 05 million travelers will fly to their destinations, up 3.0% from the previous year’s amount of 1.02 million.
“It’s exciting to see the increase in travel and to know that more people will be bringing cheer to family and friends,” said AAA East Central President Jim Lehman. “With gas prices holding steady, it should make for a joyous holiday travel season.”
The vast majority of travelers – 93.6 million people – will take a holiday road trip, an increase of 1.5 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase by 2.5 percent, with more than 6 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will decrease slightly, to 3.5 million travelers.
AAA estimates U.S. drivers have saved more than $27 billion at the gas pumps so far this year compared to the same period last year. Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.21, 21 cents more than the average price on New Year’s Day 2016 ($2.00). Most U.S. drivers will pay the second-cheapest New Year’s Day gas prices since 2009, when the national average was $1.62.
Rates for AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated lodgings are expected to increase 7 percent, with travelers spending an average of $128 and $160 per night, respectively. Daily car rental rates will average $66, slightly lower than last year’s holiday travel season.
AAA expects to rescue more than 980,000 motorists over the 11-day holiday travel period, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. Drivers should have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.
For motorists who may encounter winter weather conditions during their holiday road trips, AAA recommends checking windshield wipers and inspecting tires to ensure safe drivability before setting out. Pack an emergency kit containing a snow shovel, flashlight, ice scraper, jumper cables, warning devices and extra warm clothing for everyone riding in the vehicle. When driving, slow down and do not tailgate. Leave following distances to a minimum of five to six seconds to allow additional braking room should a sudden stop become necessary.
Before setting out on a holiday trip, travelers should download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can help map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.