Jenifer Moore
Public Affairs Specialist, OH
O: (513) 762-3105 ext. (5503105)
C: (513) 401-4911
jmoore1@aaa-alliedgroup.com

CINCINNATI, OH. (December 14, 2017) – ‘Tis the season to traditionally spend with family and friends, and this year Americans are traveling in record numbers. AAA forecasts 107.3 million Americans will take to planes, trains, automobiles and other modes of transportation during the year-end holiday period from Saturday, Dec. 23 through Monday, Jan. 1.

This will be the highest year-end travel volume on record and a 3.1 percent increase in travel volume compared with last year. 2017 marks the ninth consecutive year of rising year-end holiday travel. Since 2005, total year-end holiday travel volume has grown by 21.6 million, an increase of more than 25 percent.

“More expensive gas prices are not swaying holiday revelers to stay home,” says Jenifer Moore, AAA spokeswoman. “In fact, across the board this year, travel has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend – Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving – and we project the same for the year-end holiday period. We’ve seen the strong economy and growing consumer confidence fuel holiday travel all year long.”

 

By the Numbers: 2017 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast

  • Automobiles: The majority of travelers - 97.4 million - will hit the road, a 3 percent year-over-year increase.
  • Planes: 6.4 million people will travel by air, a 4.1 percent increase and the fourth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.
  • Trains, Buses, Rails and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 2.2 percent to 3.6 million.

 

Holiday Headache Hotspots

For the 97.4 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, in collaboration with AAA, predicts travel times during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the normal trip.

Based on historical and recent travel trends, INRIX expects drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion before the holiday week – on Wednesday, Dec. 20 and Thursday, Dec. 21 – in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. For example, drivers in New York City could see travel times peak at three times a normal trip between 3:30 and 5:30pm.

“With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in major metros,” says Dr. Graham Cookson, chief economist & head of research at INRIX. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak times altogether or consider alternative routes.”

 

Worst Days/Times to Travel

Metro Area

Worst Day for Travel

Worst Time for Travel

Delay Multiplier

New York, NY

Wednesday, Dec. 20

3:30 - 5:30 PM

3x

Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, Dec. 20

3:30 - 6:00 PM

2.5x

Washington, DC

Thursday, Dec. 21

3:00 - 6:00 PM

2.5x

San Francisco, CA

Wednesday, Dec. 20

3:00 - 5:30 PM

2x

Chicago, IL

Thursday, Dec. 21

4:00 - 6:00 PM

2x

Boston, MA

Thursday, Dec. 21

2:30 - 4:30 PM

2x

Seattle, WA

Thursday, Dec. 20

4:00 - 6:00 PM

2x

Atlanta, GA

Thursday, Dec. 21

4:30 - 6:30 PM

1.5x

Houston, TX

Wednesday, Dec. 20

5:30 - 7:30 PM

1.5x

Detroit, MI

Thursday, Dec. 21

3:00 - 5:30 PM

1.5x

                                                                                                                                         Source: INRIX

Pricey pump prices to decrease

The 90 percent of holiday travelers choosing to drive will find the most expensive year-end gas prices since 2014. This December’s national average price is $2.47 (Dec. 1-13), which is 28 cents more than last December. The good news is that AAA does expect the average to drop at least another five cents by year-end, saving motorists a few pennies at the pump.

Airfare and hotel rates trend cheaper, car rentals increase year-over-year

 Holiday airfares are nearly 20 percent cheaper than last year. At $165, the average end of year holiday airfare for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes is at a five-year low, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. On average, 2017 airfares are 5 percent less expensive compared to 2016. Overall, competition, capacity over-expansion and lower oil prices are contributing to the decline. Travelers can also find savings at AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated hotels. On average, a Three Diamond hotel nightly rate is $156, a two percent year-over-year decrease. The Two Diamond nightly average rate is $121, a five percent decrease from last year.

Similar to Thanksgiving, car rental rates are more expensive on the year. At $74, the daily car rental rate increased 11 percent. This sets a new five-year record high rate for year-end holiday travel. The increase is on par with the rate increases seen at Thanksgiving.

Top 10 Year-End Holiday Travel Destinations

For a second year, Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, top this year’s top 10 holiday destinations based on AAA.com bookings. Warmer weather destinations reign supreme in winter months with Cancun, Kahului (Maui) and Montego Bay gaining in popularity as holiday spots compared with last year. The top ten year-end holiday travel destinations are: 

1.Orlando, Fla.

2. Anaheim, Calif.

3. Cancun, Mexico

4. Honolulu, Hawaii

5. Kahului (Maui), Hawaii

6. Montego Bay, Jamaica

7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

8. Miami, Fla.

9. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

10. New York, N.Y.

 

Lockouts, flat tires to strand nearly one million motorists

The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations, and AAA expects to rescue nearly one million (901,600) motorists.  Car battery-related issues, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA is called for roadside assistance over the holidays. For members in need of roadside assistance, download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP. For added convenience, Wazers can now request AAA roadside assistance directly from the Waze app by tapping the Report menu. 

 

About the AAA travel forecast:
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 year-end holiday travel forecast is available here.

About INRIX:
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

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Who's in the Driver's Seat? The Transformation of Transportation

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, AAA and TEDx Wilmington held the first TEDx Salon dedicated to ideas worth spreading in transportation.

This event had:

  • 12 live talks given by 13 speakers
  • 368 people in attendance at the live event
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View a slideshow from the event

This TEDx WilmingtonSalon was organized in partnership with AAA

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