During the year-end holiday season, AAA projects 98.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home, an increase of 4% from the 94.8 million people who traveled last year, according to the “2014/2015 AAA Year-End Holidays Travel Forecast.”
This upward trend marks the highest forecast growth rate for the year-end holiday season since 2009 and the highest travel volume for the holiday period on record (since 2001), according to the AAA report.
The year-end holiday period is defined as Tuesday Dec. 23 to Sunday Jan. 4.
"'Tis the season for holiday travel, and this year more Americans will join with friends and family to celebrate the holidays and ring in the new year than ever before," said Marshall L. Doney, AAA president and chief operating officer. "While the economy continues to improve at an uneven pace, it seems more Americans are looking forward with increasing consumer confidence, rather than looking back at the recession. This is helping to drive expected travel volumes to the highest level we have seen for the year-end holidays."
Since the holidays land on a Thursday this year, this holiday travel season is one day longer than last year’s and the longest holiday period since 2008, according to the report.
"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 2009," said Doney. "Lower prices are increasing disposable income and enabling families to set aside money for travel this year."
According to AAA, nearly 91% of all travelers (89.5 million) plan to travel by automobile during the year-end holidays. This is an increase of 4.2% compared to last year.
With the national average price of gasoline at $2.55 (its lowest level in five years), prices are 69 cents lower than last year, according to the report. Gas prices have fallen for 81 days in a row, helping to increase Americans’ disposable income 3.5% from year-ago levels.
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, daily car rental rates will average $66 — 4% higher than 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 2014/2015 Travel Forecast,” visit http://newsroom.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/2014-Year-End-Holiday-Report-Final.pdf.