More than 103 million Americans – the most ever on record – are expected to travel for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, according to AAA Northeast. This represents a 1.5 percent increase, or 1.5 million more people traveling, compared with last year.
The New England region, with more than 4.4 million travelers expected on the roads and in the skies, will outpace most of the country with an increase of 2.5 percent over 2015. Additional consumer spending, lower gas prices, and increased consumer optimism will all contribute to record travel over the 11-day year-end holiday period.
The vast majority of travelers – 93.6 million people - will take a holiday road trip 50 miles or more from home, up 1.5 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase by 2.5 percent, with more than six million Americans flying to their holiday destinations.
“This year more Americans than ever will travel to celebrate the holidays and enjoy time with friends and family,” said Lloyd P. Albert, AAA Northeast senior vice president of Public and Government Affairs. “Rising incomes, relatively low gas prices and a generally favorable economic outlook should make for a successful holiday travel season.”
AAA estimates that U.S. drivers have saved more than $27 billion at the gas pumps so far this year. And while this year’s pricing is higher than a year ago, it’s still the lowest pricing found locally since 2009.
“The current Rhode Island average price of $2.22 for gasoline is the same as it was in mid-July, so motorists are unlikely to make price a factor when deciding how far to drive,” Mr. Albert continued. “Hoteliers, restauranteurs, gas station owners and others dependent on the traveling public will likely be direct beneficiaries of this projected record-setting travel season,” he added.
With the exception of New York City – always a popular holiday destination – warm-weather locales top the list of most popular destinations this holiday season, based on AAA.com bookings.
1. Las Vegas
3. New York City
4. San Diego
AAA to rescue more than 980,000 motorists this holiday season
AAA expects to rescue more than 980,000 motorists over the 11-day holiday travel period, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. Drivers should have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.
For motorists who may encounter winter weather conditions during their holiday road trips, AAA recommends checking windshield wipers and inspecting tires to ensure safe drivability before setting out. Pack an emergency kit containing a snow shovel, flashlight, ice scraper, jumper cables, warning devices and extra warm clothing for everyone riding in the vehicle. When driving, slow down and do not tailgate. Leave following distances to a minimum of five to six seconds to allow additional braking room should a sudden stop become necessary.