The potentially record-breaking number of holiday
travelers this year, most of whom will drive to their destinations, will benefit from the lowest gas prices in years.
AAA is projecting that over 100 million Americans will
take a trip 50 miles or more from home this holiday season, a 1.4% increase
over last year. According to AAA, this is the seventh year in a row the number
of holiday travelers has grown.
AAA attributes the growth to improvement in employment,
rising incomes and low prices, especially for gas.
According to AAA, gas will likely fall below $2 per
gallon by Christmas, with the national average standing at $2.01. Last year’s
national average around this time was $2.56. Gas prices will likely be at their
lowest since 2009 on New Year’s Day.
The majority of holiday travelers, 90%, are projected to
drive to their destination, a 1.4% increase over last year. Air travel is
expected to see a slight bump of just under 1%, to 5.8 million. Other travel, including
rail or cruise, will likely see a 2.4% increase in travelers, to 3.4 million.
AAA’s Leisure Travel Index shows domestic airfares for
the top 40 routes are 6% lower this year, at an average of $174 roundtrip.
Lodging and car rental rates have gone up, however. AAA
said travelers will spend about $150 per night at its Three Diamond hotels, a
4% increase. Daily car rental rates are up about 3%, to $68.