More Americans than ever will travel this holiday season

Lucy Hill
December 17, 2017

According to data released by AAA, almost 107.3 million Americans will travel this year for the holidays.

23, and continuing through Mon., January 1, AAA forecasts a 3.1 percent increase in travel from the year-ago period, marking a ninth straight year of increasing year-end holiday travel. In the last 10 years or so, year-end holiday travel has increased more than 25 percent.

Throughout the year travel has increased for every major holiday weekend - Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving - and AAA projects the same for the year-end holiday period.

AAA says more people will be traveling this holiday season, too - roughly 3.5 million Michiganders - and the majority are choosing to drive.

About 94.7 million Americans will travel by auto, 6.4 million will travel by plane and 3.6 million will travel by train, buses and cruise ships, AAA said. Travel times during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the normal trip.

That's despite gas prices being expected to jump almost 40 cents nationally from 2016, from $2.17 to $2.53 per gallon, according to the association's holiday forecast [PDF], produced by IHS Markit. "Whether they are going home or visiting a new destination, Americans have more money to finance their travel plans, thanks to a stronger economy and growing consumer confidence".

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In a potential indication of future demand and discretionary spending for the holidays, consumer prices for all energy commodities are up 16.4 percent from past year.

Travel Tip: Try to avoid traveling through major cities during peak travel times. At $165, the average year-end holiday airfare for a round-trip ticket on the top 40 domestic routes is at a five-year low, according to AAA's Leisure Travel Index.

Drivers are getting an early Christmas present: Gas prices are dropping just in time for the busy travel season. Bill Sutherland, AAA's senior vice president of travel and publishing, says that's a common theme he's seen in recent years.

US motor trips will rise to 97.3 million for this holiday season, the seventh consecutive annual increase, AAA said.

Vehicle rental rates are up 11 percent from previous year, to an average of $74 per day.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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