'Tis the season for travel and it's expected to be a busy travel season. According to AAA, 94.5 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home during the holiday travel season which is a 0.6 percent increase from the 94 million people who traveled last year at this time. This increase is the fifth consecutive year of increases. The holiday travel period includes the dates between Saturday, December 21 and Wednesday, January 1.
This year's expected number of 94.5 million is the highest number since AAA started collecting data. Of those travelers, 91 percent, or 85.8 million are expected to travel by car. This shows a 0.9 percent increase from last year.
Nearly 30 percent or 29.7 million Americans will take a trip this holiday with more than four million taking a road trip. Air travel shows a slight decrease from 5.61 million to5.53 million. Travelers will be spending a bit more as the median spending is expected to increase from $759 to $765.
"While economic growth has stagnated and consumer confidence has fallen Americans will not be scrooges when it comes to traveling this year," said AAA Chicago Regional President Brad Roeber. "Of all the travel holidays, the year-end holiday season remains the least volatile as Americans will not let economic conditions dictate their travel plans to celebrate the holidays."
With nine out of ten travelers taking to the road, AAA advises people to be careful. AAA says that one in five of all licensed drivers have driven when they thought their alcohol level might have been close to, or possibly over, the legal limit in the past year. AAA expects to rescue 3.76 million drivers during the holidays season due to dead batteries, flat tired and lockouts.
Air travelers should be aware of slightly lower airfares this year. During Christmas the average lowest round-trip rate is $199 for the top 40 U.S. air routes compared to $204 last year. About 3.13 million will skip air travel and driving and will take a train, bus or cruise ship instead this year. Those looking to stay in a hotel will pay a bit more as hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to average $138 per night compared to $142 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay an average cost of $102 per night, compared to $101 in 2012.