During the year-end holiday season, AAA projects 94.5 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home, an increase of 0.6 percent from the 94 million people who traveled last year, according to the “2013/2014 AAA Year-End Holidays Travel Forecast.”
This upward trend marks the fifth consecutive year of increases and the highest travel volume recorded for the season.
The year-end holiday period is defined as Saturday Dec. 21 to Wednesday Jan. 1.
“While economic growth has stagnated and consumer confidence has fallen, Americans will not be Scrooges when it comes to traveling this year,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA chief operating officer. “AAA is projecting more Americans to travel than ever before to gather with friends and family, exchange presents and ring in the New Year.”
Only once in the past decade has there been a change in travel volume greater than 5%, and that was a decline in 2007 as the recession was just getting started.
“Of all the travel holidays, the year-end holiday season remains the least volatile as Americans will not let economic conditions dictate their travel plans to celebrate the holidays,” added Doney.
According to the AAA report, approximately 85.8 million people (91%) plan to travel by automobile during the year-end holidays. This is a 0.9% increase over the 85.1 million people who traveled by auto last year.
Although gas prices have climbed slightly from the multi-year low of $3.18 per gallon on Nov. 12, AAA expects most drivers will pay less than a year ago to fill up during the holiday season. Gas prices recently increased because of planned and unplanned maintenance at a number of refineries and seasonally stronger demand for gasoline, says AAA. Prices should decline by the end of the year due to rising supplies and increased refinery production.
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, daily car rental rates during the weekend will average $63 — compared to $55 last year.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight, a Colorado-based business information provider.
For the complete “AAA/IHS Global Insight Year-End Holidays 2013/2014 Travel Forecast,” visit http://publicaffairsresources.aaa.biz/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/YearEnd_2013-Final-Report.pdf