Millions expected to travel this holiday season

More than 103 million Americans will travel for the year-end holidays, according to AAA’s Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast. This represents a 1.5 percent increase, or 1.5 million more travelers than last year, and the highest total volume since AAA began tracking holiday travel data in 2001.


“This will be the most-traveled year-end holiday season on record, particularly for those who drive,” said Joseph J. Richardson Jr., President and CEO, AAA – The Auto Club Group.

The increase in holiday travel this year is being driven by additional consumer spending, a result of improvements in the labor market and rising wages. Additionally, 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.

Here is the holiday summary:

• 103.1 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more

• The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Friday, December 23 to Monday, January 2, 2017 – one fewer day than last year’s holiday

• A record number of Americans will drive (93.6 million)

• Six million Americans will fly – the fourth-highest volume of air passengers (the top three were 2002/03 – 7.3 million, 2003/04 – 7.1 million, and 2004/05 – 6.4 million)

• Gas prices on New Year’s Day will likely be higher than the average on January 1, 2016; however, the annual average for 2016 is set to the be lowest in more than a decade in North Dakota

• Compared to last year, average prices are $75 higher for Airfares ($204), $2 lower for car rentals ($66), $9 higher for AAA Two Diamond-Rated Hotels ($128), and $10 higher for AAA Three Diamond-Rated hotels ($160)

• AAA expects to rescue more than 980,000 motorists over the 11-day holiday travel period

Hitting the Road

The vast majority of travelers—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, will decrease slightly, to 3.5 million travelers.

Saving on Gas

AAA estimates 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 average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.22 nationwide and $2.10 in North Dakota. Gasoline will likely cost more on New Year’s Day 2017 than one year ago in North Dakota ($1.93), but the annual average for 2016 is on track to be the lowest since 2004 ($1.85).  As of today the annual average in North Dakota stands at $2.09.

Roadside Help

AAA expects to rescue more than 980,000 motorists over the 11-day holiday travel period, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. Drivers should have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America.

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