ONE-THIRD OF Americans, 112.5 million people, are expected to head home (or elsewhere) for Christmas this year, according to AAA Travel. As in past years, most will drive, but this year they will enjoy lower gas prices.
The AAA forecast represents a 4.4 percent increase over last year’s holiday season and the highest number of holiday travelers AAA has ever tracked. Also, the time period measured this year, Dec. 22 to Jan. 1, is longer due to Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Tuesdays.
“Strong economic growth fueled by robust consumer spending continues to drive strong demand for seasonal travel,” said Bryan Shilling, AAA’s managing director for products and services. “With a record-breaking one-third of the country choosing to travel this holiday, roadways and airports are sure to be busy.”
More than 102 million people will drive, 4.4 percent higher than last year. Most will also pay less in gas as the average price per gallon nationally for regular gas as of Dec. 18 was $2.36, down from $2.42 that time last year.
Another 6.7 million people will travel by air this year, a 4.2 percent increase over last year and the highest level measured in 15 years. And 3.7 million travelers will take trains, buses and cruise ships to their destinations, 4 percent more than last year.
Most of those travelers are seeking warmer climates, not necessarily home. The top 10 destinations are:
- Orlando, Florida
- Cancun, Mexico
- Anaheim, California (Disneyland)
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
- Montego Bay, Jamaica
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- New York, New York
- Kahului, Hawaii (Maui)
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Miami, Florida