More than 103 million Americans – the most on record – are expected to travel for the year-end holidays, according to AAA. This represents a 1.5 percent increase, or 1.5 million more people traveling, compared with last year. This comes despite one fewer travel day this holiday season. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as December 23 to January 2, 2017.
AAA predicts 911,300 Oklahomans will travel over the 11-day holiday period, an increase of just under one percent over the 2015 Christmas/New Year’s travel volume. Ninety-one percent will be getting there by car, pickup or RV.
“We believe the increase in holiday travel this year is being driven by increased consumer spending, which is a result of the improved national labor market and rising wages,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “In addition, low gas prices and rising consumer optimism are coaxing more of us than ever to set out on road trips, take to the skies, or board trains, buses and cruise ships to celebrate the holidays.”
The vast majority of travelers nationwide – 93.6 million people – will drive to holiday destinations, 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, and travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will decrease slightly to 3.5 million travelers nationally.
AAA estimates U.S. drivers have spent $27 billion less at the gas pumps so far this year compared to the same period last year. Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.23, which is 22 cents more than the average price on Dec. 15, 2015. Also, last year on this date, the Oklahoma statewide average stood at $1.81 per gallon, 20 cents less than today’s $2.01 price. Holiday travelers need to know that every state in the nation has a higher gas price average today than Oklahoma except Arkansas (also at $2.01) according to GasPrices.AAA.com, which has current city-by-city and state-by-state gas price averages derived from data from more than 100,000 gas stations, updated daily.
AAA’s Leisure Travel Index projects holiday airfares will average $204 for roundtrip flights along the top 40 domestic routes, up 17 percent from last year. Rooms at AAA Two and Three Diamond-rated lodgings are expected to increase 7 percent, with travelers spending an average of $128 and $160 per night, respectively. Daily car rental rates will average $66, about two percent less than during last year’s holiday travel season.