AAA: 98.6 Million Travelers Expected for Year-End Holiday
TAMPA, Fla. - The year-end holiday season should see the highest travel volume on record (AAA travel data dates back to 2001). 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.
The year-end holiday season should see the highest travel volume on record (AAA travel data dates back to 2001). 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.
Hotel, car rental rates rise modestly
According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase four percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $143 per night compared to $138 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen five percent with an average cost of $108 per night. Daily car rental rates will average $66, four percent higher than last year.
Airfares fall seven percent this year, driven by low-cost carriers
Average discounted round-trip airfares across 40 top domestic routes are expected to fall seven percent this year, to $186. "This is influenced by the availability of discounted rates from low-cost carriers in several top markets and not based on cheaper fuel costs," said Jenkins. AAA encourages travelers to consider the full cost of a ticket when purchasing air travel, as many airlines charge ancillary fees for checked bags, meals, priority boarding and seat assignments.
AAA expects to rescue 1.1 million motorists this holiday season
Between December 23 and January 4, AAA expects to come to the rescue of more than 1.1 million motorists with the primary reasons for breakdowns being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists check battery and tire condition and prepare vehicles for winter driving before heading out on a holiday getaway. Car care tips and other information are available at AAA.com.
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.
AAA offers travel planning resources
AAA's digital tools for travel planning on the go include the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
On AAA.com, travelers can find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using the TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. 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.
AAA's collection of downloadable eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones is available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, and regions like Wine Country and national parks.
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 the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2014 Year-End Travel Forecast can be found here.
As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com. For more information about AAA Travel, visit AAA.com/Travel.
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 9 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 55 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.