Holiday Travelers Expected to Set Another New Record, AAA Says

A record 107.3 million people are expected to make some sort of trip.

by on Dec.14, 2017

This guy may have the right idea on how to avoid possible delays drivers may experience due to the record number of travelers during the holidays.

If you’re planning to travel to see loved ones, or at least those you tolerate, this holiday season, it’ll be a bad news/good news scenario.

AAA is predicting that more than 107.3 million others will be joining you on your trek between Dec. 23, and Jan. 1, which is a new record. This will likely contribute to delays and other issues of all sorts during that time.

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This will be the highest year-end travel volume on record, the group says, and a 3.1% increase compared with last year. This will be the ninth consecutive year of rising year-end holiday travel.

Since 2005, total year-end holiday travel volume has grown by 21.6 million, an increase of more than 25%.

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The good news is that drivers are unlikely to see a big hike in gas prices, which are averaging $2.47 per gallon. Of the more than 107 million travelers on the move, 97.4 million will drive.

“More expensive gas prices are not swaying holiday revelers to stay home,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing.

“In fact, across the board this year, travel has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend – Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving – and we project the same for the year-end holiday period. We’ve seen the strong economy and growing consumer confidence fuel holiday travel all year long.”

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For the 97.4 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, in collaboration with AAA, predicts travel times during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the normal trip.

The first evidence of delays will actually occur a couple of days before the travel season: Dec. 20 and 21. The largest cities will see the biggest delays with traffic increasing as much as three times the usual numbers, AAA predicts.

“With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in major metros,” said Graham Cookson, chief economist & head of research at INRIX. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak times altogether or consider alternative routes.”

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For those flying to their holiday destinations, they’ll enjoying similar good news as drivers: holiday airfares are almost 20% lower than last year. The average price for round-trip flights for the top 40 routes is just $165. Hotel rooms are also lower. The only offset is that rental car rates are expected to rise 11% to an average $74 a day.

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