Travel — 16 December 2010
AAA predicts more road travel for year-end holidays

AAA predicts more road travel for year-end holidays.

AAA projects 92.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holidays, an increase of 3.1 percent from the 89.5 million who traveled a year ago. The year-end holidays travel period is defined as Thursday, December 23, 2010 to Sunday, January 2, 2011.

“It’s great to see so many Americans taking to the roads, rails and skies this holiday season, especially since this is the fifth consecutive holiday period this year in which AAA has predicted a year-to-year increase in the number of travelers,” said Glen MacDonell, director, AAA Travel Services. “After a challenging year in 2009, a modestly improved economic environment and pent-up demand resulted in more Americans traveling in 2010, and the year-end holidays are no exception.”

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight 2010-11 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast can be found at AAA.com/news.

More than nine out of 10 will drive to their holiday destinations

Approximately 85.7 million people (93 percent of all holiday travelers) will drive to their year-end holidays destinations. That represents a 3.2 percent increase from the 83 million who drove last year.

Number of air travelers expected to increase by nearly three percent

Nearly 2.75 million leisure air travelers (three percent of holiday travelers) will take to the skies during the year-end holidays, marking a 2.8 percent increase from last year’s 2.67 million air travelers. The remaining four percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.

Average travel distance up 33 percent; median spending about 3.5 percent more than last year

According to a survey of traveler intentions, the average distance traveled by Americans during the year-end holidays is expected to be 1,052 miles, which is 33 percent more than last year’s average travel distance of 791 miles. Median spending is expected to be $694. Median spending a year ago was $670. Similar to Thanksgiving, a majority of survey respondents (75 percent) reported that the main purpose of their upcoming trip was a visit with friends or family.

Hotel rates increase, airfares decrease and car rental rates unchanged compared to a year ago

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings over the year-end holidays are expected to increase five percent from a year ago with travelers spending an average of $125 per night compared to $119 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay two percent more at an average cost of $88 per night. Airfares are expected to be three percent less than last year with an average lowest round-trip rate of $174 for the top 40 U.S. air routes. Weekend daily car rental rates will remain unchanged at an average of $50.

AAA reminds travelers that the motor club offers a variety of trip planning tools including:

  • Free printed TourBook guides and maps for members
  • Online travel guides and the TripTik® Travel Planner, available free to all travelers at AAA.com
  • Three free mobile applications that offer on-the-go access to AAA travel information and services:
  • AAA TripTik Mobile iPhone app provides updated gas prices, maps and directions functionality, and information on AAA Approved hotels, restaurants and attractions.
  • With AAA Roadside iPhone app, AAA members requiring emergency road service can quickly send their location, vehicle description and specific breakdown details directly to AAA without placing a phone call.
  • The AAA Discounts iPhone app, which has been downloaded more than 900,000 times, uses GPS technology to identify a user’s location and displays nearby businesses that offer members AAA Show Your Card & Save® discounts. A version of the AAA Discounts app is also available for Android-platform smartphones.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.

AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com

Image by Martin LaBar (going on hiatus) via Flickr

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About Author

Richard Lee

Richard has been traveling since he took a year off from college, where he was doing a BA in Journalism. He traveled half the world, backpacking with his girlfriend (now his wife). They spent time in South America, Asia, Greece and much of Europe. After writing about his experiences for several airline and travel magazines, he never went back to college.

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