Holiday Travel Records Expected to Fall Due to Cheap Gas

More than 100 million Americans traveling for the holidays this year.

by on Dec.16, 2015

Snowy weather isn't like to be a deterrent for holiday travel this year as AAA expects a record number of Americans will "on the road" for the holidays.

Baby, it may be cold outside, but that isn’t going to stop a record-setting 100 million- people from getting out on America’s roadways this holiday season to see friends and family.

According to AAA, nearly one in three people will travel more than 50 miles to celebrate the season. The 100.5 million estimated travelers represents a 1.4% increase over 2014.

A Unique Perspective!

The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015 to Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. The jump in travelers marks the seventh consecutive year that holiday travel has increased.

“The holidays are a time for joining with friends and family, and the record number of people traveling this holiday should make for a joyous travel season,” said Marshall Doney, AAA President and CEO.

The increase in holiday travel this year is being driven by continued improvement in the labor market, rising incomes and low prices, including gas prices that remain well below last year’s levels. This is helping boost Americans’ disposable income, but some consumers continue to remain cautious about their finances as they head into the holiday season.

“Rising incomes and low gas prices are helping to fill stockings this year, and more people than ever will choose to spend those savings on travel this year,” Doney said.

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Short of getting into a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer, more than 90% of folks are going to hop in the car to get to their holiday destination. Air travel is on the rise this year compared with last, the drop in gas prices hasn’t translated to super low airfares; however, drivers are filling up for about half of what it cost them last year.

The national average price for a gallon of gasoline remains poised to fall below the $2 per gallon benchmark by Christmas. Today’s national average is $2.01, 55 cents less than last year. AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest gas prices on New Year’s Day since 2009.

Many analysts have been predicting what many would consider a Christmas miracle: gas prices below $2 a gallon by the time Santa gets here. That said, travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase 2.4%, to 3.4 million travelers.

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The busiest day of the travel season, you ask? The evening of Dec. 23 and AAA expects have to get out and rescue about 900,000 around the country from flat tires, empty gas tanks or worse: accidents.

In the event you’re going somewhere it could snow, AAA advises having an extra blanket in your vehicle, a snow shovel and kitty litter to put under your tires in case you get stuck.

If you’re driving and needing to stay overnight on the trip, the gas savings may be eaten up by in the increase in hotel room costs. Rates for AAA Three Diamond Rated lodgings will be four percent higher this year, with travelers spending an average of $150 per night. The average rate for a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel has risen 11 percent with an average nightly cost of $119.

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If you’re one of the lucky one traveling by jet because the average prices is expected to be 6% lower this season, those savings may be partially offset by your rental car rate, which will average $68: a 3% increase over last year’s holiday travel season.

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