This holiday season will be another one for the record books in terms of the number of traveling Americans, AAA forecasts.

AAA expects 112.5 million travelers during the holiday travel period (Dec. 22 to Jan. 1), a 4.4% increase over last year. That's AAA's highest predicted number of travelers since it began tracking travel over the holiday season in 2001.

Most, 102.1 million, will travel by car, marking a 4.4% year-over-year increase. They will see the lowest national average gas price, $2.46 per gallon in the first week of December, 2 cents less than a year ago.

Another 6.7 million, a 4.2% increase, will travel by plane. The majority will leave two or three days before Christmas and return the day after, Dec. 26. The busiest days to fly will be Dec. 22, 23 and 26.

AAA said most Christmas flights were booked from Oct. 26 through Nov. 27, with an average ticket price of $562. Close-in bookings made between Dec. 12 and Dec. 18 will average $488.

The remaining 3.7 million travelers will use trains, buses and cruise ships, a 4% increase.

This year, rental car rates have increased 3% year over year to $76 per day. AAA said that is the most expensive car rentals have been in the past 10 years.

AAA Two Diamond hotels are up 1% year over year with an average of $122 per night, while AAA Three Diamond hotels are averaging $152 per night, a 3% decrease.

The top destinations, with the exception of New York (No. 7 on the list), are all warm places. In order, they are Orlando; Cancun; Anaheim, Calif.; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Honolulu; Kahului, Hawaii; Fort Lauderdale; and Miami.

AAA's forecast is based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London company.


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