December 18, 2012 – Triple AAA, the largest travel association in the U.S., said this holiday travel season might be the busiest in the past six years. AAA has predicted that over 93 million people in the U.S. will travel during the holiday season. That number reflects an increase of 1.6% over last year and is less than a half a million shy of the all time record set in 2006.
The travel association said that there would be more cars on the highways than at any other time previously, largely due to the fact, traveling by plane has become difficult and expensive. AAA said that a record 84.4 people living in the U.S. would drive a minimum of 50 miles between December 21 and January 2. That would include over 90% of the predicted holiday travelers, which would be up from 89% of six years ago.
Looking at it another way: 25% of Americans will drive a long distance for the holiday making it likely there will be many traffic jams, lines at toll plazas and rest stops filled to capacity.
Gas prices have fallen lately and will be close to last year’s Holiday period prices of about $3.23 per gallon. Since September, the price of a gallon of gasoline has dropped approximately 50 cents.
One analyst said that the holidays at the end of the year remain the least affected, as prices of gasoline or airline tickets will not stop people from returning home to see friends and family during the holiday season.
The forecast for the number of people traveling was based on interviews that AAA have with more than 650 people in the U.S. and by using data that shows how the overall health of the U.S. economy is.
Close to one million more people, this holiday season will drive as opposed to last year, but fewer will be traveling via air. A trade group for the airline industry, Airlines for America, estimates that approximately 15 million people are set to fly between mid December and the end of the first week of January.