This year Americans are traveling in record numbers. AAA forecasts 107.3 million Americans will take to planes, trains, automobiles and other modes of transportation during the year-end holiday period from Saturday, Dec. 23 through Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. This will be the highest year-end travel volume on record and a 3.1 percent increase in travel volume compared with last year. 2017 marks 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 percent.
"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."
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. Unfortunately, you cannot always avoid traveling during those peak hours.
By the Numbers: 2017 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast
Automobiles: The majority of travelers - 97.4 million - will hit the road (a 3 percent year-over-year increase).
Planes: 6.4 million people will travel by air, a 4.1 percent increase and the fourth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.
Trains, Buses, Rails and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 2.2 percent to 3.6 million.
Automobile Gasoline Costs
The 90 percent of holiday travelers choosing to drive will find the most expensive year-end gas prices since 2014. This December's national average price is $2.47 (Dec. 1-13), which is 28 cents more than last December. The good news is that AAA does expect the average to drop at least another five cents by year-end, saving motorists a few pennies at the pump.
Travel Tips for Drivers
- Designate a passenger to serve as official text messenger and navigator.
- Be prepared for travel delays or breakdowns. Besides blankets, water and food,
download the AAA app.
Holiday airfares are nearly 20 percent cheaper than last year. At $165, the average end of year holiday airfare for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes is at a five-year low, according to AAA's Leisure Travel Index. On average, 2017 airfares are 5 percent less expensive compared to 2016. Overall, competition, capacity over-expansion and lower oil prices are contributing to the decline.
Travel Tips for Flyers
- Remember your gifts will be checked by airport security. Do not wrap your gifts.
- For the fastest way to receive delay or gate change alerts, download your airlines app.
Sometimes knowing what to expect may ease nerves. See chart below.
However you are traveling these holidays, SQ Group wishes everyone safe travels.