AAA Expects Strong Travel During Holidays
Despite continued worries about the economy, more Americans are expected to hit the highway this holiday season.
CNN reported that travel group AAA said Wednesday it expects 91.9 million Americans — about 30% of the population — to travel at least 50 miles from home during the 11-day year-end holiday season. That's up 1.4% from a year ago and the second highest travel volume in the past ten years.
AAA defines the holiday season as Dec. 23 to Jan. 2. Peak travel volume was hit in the 2006-2007 holiday season, when 93.7 million people traveled.
"It's a positive sign for the travel industry," said Bill Sutherland, vice president, AAA Travel Services, in a statement. "As our lives get busier, it is so important to create opportunities for the rest and rejuvenation that result from vacation travel and connecting with family and friends, especially during the holidays."
The majority — about 91% — of travelers are expecting to hit the roads by automobile, a 2.1% increase from a year ago. That comes in face of high prices at the pump, with gas prices 29 cents higher than a year ago.
On the other hand, air travel is expected to decline slightly, in the wake of an anticipated 21% increase in holiday airfares over last year.
About 5.4 million travelers expect to fly during this year's holiday period, a 9.7% decline from a year ago, AAA said. That makes this year's air travel volume the seventh lowest in the past ten years.
AAA found that 59% of people expecting to travel over the holidays feel that the economy has either had no impact on their plans or that it has even improved their financial situation. The remaining 41% said they would be forced to limit their travel plans because of economic worries.