Number of Holiday Travelers This Year Expected to Reach Record High

The vast majority of holiday travelers—an estimated 93.6 million people—will drive to their holiday destinations

Number of Holiday Travelers This Year Expected to Reach Record High
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December 21, 2016

More than 103 million Americans—the most on record—are expected to travel for the year-end holidays this year, according to AAA's Year-End Travel Forecast. This marks an increase of a 1.5 percent, or 1.5 million more people traveling, compared to last year.

AAA attributes the increase in holiday travelers this year to additional consumer spending—a result of improvements in the labor market and rising wages. Additionally, AAA says that low gas prices and increased consumer optimism will prompt more Americans than ever to set out on road trips, take to the skies, or board trains, buses, and cruise ships to celebrate the holidays.

"Tis the season for holiday travel, and this year more Americans will travel to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year than ever before," said AAA President and CEO Marshall Doney. "Rising incomes and continued low gas prices should make for a joyous holiday travel season."

The vast majority of holiday travelers this year—93.6 million people—will take a holiday road trip, an increase of 1.5 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase by 2.5 percent, with more than 6 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation—including cruises, trains, and buses—is expected to decrease slightly this year to 3.5 million travelers.

AAA estimates that U.S. drivers have saved more than $27 billion at the gas pumps so far this year compared to the same period last year. Today's national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.25—which is 25 cents more than the average price on New Year's Day 2016. AAA says that most U.S. drivers will pay the second-cheapest New Year's Day gas prices since 2009, when the national average was $1.62.

The year-end holiday travel period this year is defined as Friday, December 23 through Monday, January 2, 2017.