The year-end holiday season should see the highest travel volume on record.
AAA projects 98.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, an increase of four percent from the 94.8 million people who traveled last year. The year-end holiday period is defined as Tuesday, December. 23 to Sunday, January. 4.
Highlights from 2014/2015 year-end holiday travel forecast:
More than 89.5 million travelers (91 percent of total volume) will celebrate the holidays with a road trip, an increase of 4.2 percent from 2013.
Air travel is forecast to grow one percent from 2013, with 5.7 million passengers.
Christmas day gas prices should be the lowest since 2008 ($1.65).
Hotel and car rental rates increased 4-5 percent.
Airfares fell seven percent this year due to low-cost carriers.
AAA expects to rescue 1.1 million motorists.
“This year more Americans will join friends and family to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year than ever before,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group.
“Continued growth in consumer confidence and disposable income, an extended holiday period, and low gas prices should drive expected travel volumes to the highest level we have ever seen during the year-end holidays.”
This year the holidays land on a Thursday, creating a holiday travel season that is one day longer than last year’s and the longest since 2008, offering travelers more options for departures and return trips. “This flexibility makes it possible for more people to fit holiday travel into their schedules,” Jenkins said.
Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans
“Lower gas prices are filling stockings with a little more cash to spend on travel this year as travelers are expected to pay the lowest prices since 2008,” continued Jenkins. “Lower prices are increasing disposable income and enabling families to set aside money for travel this year.”
Monday’s national average price of gasoline ($2.55) is 68 cents lower than last year ($3.23), a welcome gift for holiday travelers. Gas prices have fallen 81 consecutive days, helping to increase Americans’ disposable income 3.5 percent from year-ago levels, which has had a positive effect on travel.
“Gas prices should continue falling through the rest of the year,” said Jenkins. “Prices are dropping at around 1-2 cents a day, and if that trend continues, gas could be 15 cents cheaper by Christmas day.”
Visit AAA.com/Gas to view current state and local average gasoline prices, find the cheapest gas in your city, and calculate how much you will likely spend on gas during your next road trip.
Prevent impaired driving this holiday season
With more than 90 percent of holiday travelers driving to their destinations, AAA urges everyone on the road to be extra diligent about the dangers of impaired driving. According to the latest data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, one in eight of all licensed drivers who drink at least occasionally reported having driven when they thought their alcohol level might have been close to, or possibly over, the legal limit in the past year.
The survey also reveals 91 percent of drivers consider impaired driving to be unacceptable, with 42 percent reporting that drunk drivers are a bigger problem today versus three years ago. “Despite the ubiquitous warnings about drinking and driving, especially during the holiday season, an average of one alcohol-impaired driving death occurs every 45 minutes,” said Jenkins.
AAA works year-round to educate motorists about driving practices that will help keep them safe and reduce traffic-related crashes and injuries. PreventDUI.AAA.com is an online resource offering impaired driving facts, transportation alternatives and expert advice.