Record # of holiday travelers

Staff Report

COLUMBUS – AAA expects a record 103.1 million Americans, including more than 4.2 million Ohioans, to journey 50 miles or more from home between Friday, Dec. 23, 2016 and Monday Jan. 2, 2017.

The projected travel volume is an increase of 1.5 percent nationally and 2 percent in Ohio, and marks the eighth consecutive year of year-end holiday travel growth. The growth comes despite the fact that this year’s 11-day year-end holiday travel period is one day shorter than last year.

Behind the Numbers:

Increased consumer optimism and spending, as a result of labor market improvements and rising wages, are helping to drive this year’s holiday travel increase.

In addition, AAA estimates a year of lower gas prices has saved American drivers more than $27 billion compared to the same period last year. While gas prices are now above year-ago levels, this cumulative savings has boosted disposable income and given people more money to travel.

“Tis the season for holiday travel, and this year more Americans will travel to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year than ever before,” said President and CEO Marshall Doney. “Rising incomes and continued low gas prices should make for a joyous holiday travel season.”

Road Trips:

Automobile travel remains the dominant form of transportation, with 91 percent of American travelers (92 percent of Ohio travelers) driving to their destinations this holiday.

With so many travelers on the road, breakdowns are likely. AAA expects to assist more than 980,000 motorists during the 11-day holiday travel period. The primary reasons for calls will be dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires. Motorists should have their vehicle inspected before hitting the road this holiday, and should pack an emergency roadside kit, in case they become stranded.

Motorists should find gas prices only slightly above year-ago levels this holiday. Last year, gas prices averaged $2 nationally and $1.92 in Ohio during the holiday travel period.

Air travel:

AAA expects air travel to increase 2.5 percent nationally (0.5 percent in Ohio) over last year, with more than 6 million Americans (more than 223,000 Ohioans) flying to their destinations. This marks the fifth consecutive year of air travel growth and the highest year-end holiday air travel volume since 2004.

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, air fares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will increase 17 percent this holiday compared to last year to an average of $204 round trip.

Hotel & Rental Car Costs:

Travelers can expect to spend slightly more on hotels this holiday, with rates for AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated lodgings up 7 percent to an average of $128 and $160 respectively. Car rental rates will average $66 per day, which is $2 lower than last year.

Holiday Forecast Methodology:

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The London-based information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays.

Staff Report

Information for this story was provided by AAA.

Information for this story was provided by AAA.