MORE THAN 115 million Americans will be going home, or somewhere, for the Christmas and New Year holidays this year between Dec. 21 and Jan. 1, according to AAA. That is a 3.9 percent increase over last year and the highest number since the association began tracking holiday travel in 2000.
AAA’s forecast for Christmas and New Years comes on the heels of its prediction that more than 55 million Americans would travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, another record breaking travel event. Like that holiday, driving is the preferred mode of transportation for Yuletide travelers, with 104 million expected to drive, the most on record and 3.9 million more people than last year.
“Holiday cheer is at an all-time high this year, with unemployment at historically low levels, and noted improvements in both disposable income and household net worth,” said AAA Vice President Paula Twidale. “Travelers should be getting used to crowded highways and airports, as this marks the eighth straight year of new record-high travel volumes for the year-end holidays.”
The 6.97 million Americans expected to fly for the holiday is 4.9 percent more than last year, the highest increase in travel volume since 2003. Trains, buses, ships and other modes will carry 3.81 million people, a 3 percent increase over last year.
Lower gas prices play into the decision for some to drive, but AAA predicts they will not drop as low as last December’s national average of $2.37 a gallon.
Hotel rates, on the other hand, have increased 1 percent to $153 for Three Diamond hotels but dropped 2 percent to $119 for Two Diamond hotels.
These are the top 10 destination cities for holiday travelers:
- Orlando, Florida
- Anaheim, California
- Kahului, Maui, Hawaii
- Las Vegas
- Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
- New York
- Tampa, Florida