HAMILTON – More than 2.2 million New Jersey residents will travel 50 miles or more from home for Christmas and New Year’s, a slight increase over last year’s statistics, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic projections. The 2012 year-end holiday travel period is defined as Saturday, Dec. 22 to Wednesday, Jan. 2.
For 2012, more than 2.2 million New Jerseyans will take to the roads, rails and skies, AAA Mid-Atlantic says.
Projected New Jersey Travel by transportation mode:
- By Automobile: 2,054,143; or, 90% of all travelers (Up 1.1% compared to 2011.)
- By Air: 154,792; or, 7% of all travelers. (Up 4.3% compared to 2011.)
- By Other Mode: 79,616; or, 3.5% of all travelers. (Up approximately 6.8% compared to 2011.)
Highlights from AAA 2012/13 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast include:
- Year-end holiday travelers to total 93.3 million nationally, an increase of 1.6 percent from the 91.8 million who traveled last year
- Ninety percent of travelers (84.4 million) to travel by automobile, representing 26.7 percent of the total U.S. population
- Holiday air travel expected to increase 4.5 percent to 5.6 million travelers from 5.4 million in 2011
- Median spending expected to increase almost six percent to $759, compared to $718 in 2011 with transportation costs consuming about 29 cents of every travel dollar.
- Average distance traveled to increase to 760 miles round-trip from 726 miles, an expected result with an increase in air travelers
- Travel volumes for the year-end holidays are generally very stable, only once in the past decade has there been a change in travel volume greater than five percent
“The year-end holiday season remains the least volatile of all travel holidays as Americans will not let economic conditions or high gas prices dictate if they go home for the holidays or kick off the New Year with a vacation,” said Tracy Noble, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson. “Primary economic indicators all show modest improvement from last year and AAA is projecting an increase in the number of Americans stuffing their stockings with airline tickets and hotel reservations.”
“As we enter the New Year, one unknown for travel is the looming ‘fiscal cliff’ and the resulting uncertainty related to near-term tax and benefit changes. Having these items unresolved complicates many travelers’ ability to develop an accurate household budget as they plan for future spending and saving decisions,” said Noble.
Impact of gasoline prices and airfares on travel plans
AAA estimates the national average price of gasoline will slowly drop through the end of the year and average between $3.20-3.40 a gallon by New Year’s Day. Gas prices dropped about 50 cents a gallon on average from September through early December, but remain at record highs for this time of year. AAA does not expect gas prices to have a major impact on travel volume, but consumers could have more money to spend on holiday shopping, dining and entertainment if prices drop through December as expected.
Those traveling by air will find lower airfares according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. For the year-end holiday period the average lowest round-trip rate is $203 for the top 40 U.S. air routes, a three percent decrease from last year. Approximately 3.3 million travelers will choose other modes of transportation, including rail, bus and cruise ship.
Average travel distance increases
According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during holiday period is expected to be 760 miles, further than last year when travelers planned to log 726 miles.
Median spending up nearly six percent; top activities are dining and spending time with loved ones
Median spending is expected to be $759, a six percent increase compared to the expected median spending of intended holiday travelers ($718) last year.
Dining (67 percent) and spending time with family and friends (66 percent) and are the most popular activities planned by travelers. It is not surprising that during holiday season shopping is the third most popular activity with 57 percent expecting to shop. More than one-third (34 percent) of holiday travelers plan to sightsee during their trips.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider 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.
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