AAA Forecasts a 3.1% Increase in Year-End Holiday Travel

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FLORHAM PARK — 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 who traveled a year ago. The year-end holidays travel period is defined as Thursday, Dec. 23, to Sunday, Jan. 2.

“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.”

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

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.

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.

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

  • Free printed TourBook® guides and maps for members
  • The online TripTik® Travel Planner, available free to all travelers at AAA.com
  • Mobile applications for the iPhone and Android phones that offer on-the-go access to AAA travel information and services.

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.


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