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AAA: Record Number of New Englanders Planning to Get Away
More Than 4-and-a-Half Million Will Travel Over Year-End Holiday
AAA is projecting a record 4 and half million New Englanders will be traveling over the year-end holiday, an increase of more than 2 and a half percent over last year.
The increase is not quite as significant as the increase in the number of travelers nationwide, projected to be more than 107 million Americans who will travel 50 miles or more between Saturday, Dec 23 and Monday, Jan 1.
“The strong economy and growing consumer confidence has been driving record-breaking travel numbers all year – both here in Connecticut and nationwide as well,” says Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in Greater Hartford. “Even higher year-end gas prices are not high enough to deter those who want to get away”.
More than 4 million New Englanders will be packing their cars and hitting the road (almost 90% of the travelers).
However, the most significant increase is in the number of New Englanders who will be flying to their destinations – more than 400,000. That is up almost 5 percent over last year – and the most in more than 10 years.
New England by the Numbers:
- Holiday Travelers – 4,538,000 (Up 2.6%)
- Going by Auto – 4,005,000 (Up 2.4%)
- Going by Plane – 401,000 (Up 4.7%)
- Other (Bus, Rail, Cruise…) – 132,000 (Up 2.3%)
AAA is forecasting a record breaking 107.3 million Americans will travel over the year-end holiday period, a 3.1 percent increase in travel volume compared with last year.
- Automobiles: The majority of travelers - 97.4 million - will hit the road (a 3 percent year-over-year increase).
- Planes: 6.4 million people will travel by air, a 4.1 percent increase and the fourth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.
- Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 2.2 percent to 3.6 million.
AAA Travel Tip: Try to avoid traveling through major cities during peak travel times. The best times to leave are typically early morning or after the morning commute because the roads should be less crowded and you will have more time to get to your destination safely. If your schedule permits, traveling on the holiday itself often results in fewer cars on the road.
Gas is a little Pricey
The nearly 90 percent of holiday travelers choosing to drive will find the most expensive year-end gas prices since 2014.
This December’s national average price is $2.47 (Dec. 1-13), which is 28 cents more than last December. The good news is that AAA does expect the average to drop at least another five cents by year-end, saving motorists a few pennies at the pump.
The average price of gas across Connecticut is $2.65 for a gallon of regular unleaded, up about 27 cents over last year at this time.
Airfare and hotel rates trend cheaper, car rentals increase year-over-year
Holiday airfares are nearly 20 percent cheaper than last year. At $165, the average end of year holiday airfare for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes is at a five-year low, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. On average, 2017 airfares are 5 percent less expensive compared to 2016. Overall, competition, capacity over-expansion and lower oil prices are contributing to the decline. Travelers can also find savings at AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated hotels. On average, a Three Diamond hotel nightly rate is $156, a two percent year-over-year decrease. The Two Diamond nightly average rate is $121, a five percent decrease from last year.
Similar to Thanksgiving, car rental rates are more expensive on the year. At $74, the daily car rental rate increased 11 percent. This sets a new five-year record high rate for year-end holiday travel. The increase is on par with the rate increases seen at Thanksgiving.
Top 10 Year-End Holiday Travel Destinations
For a second year, Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, top this year’s top 10 holiday destinations based on AAA.com bookings. Warmer weather destinations reign supreme in winter months with Cancun, Kahului (Maui) and Montego Bay gaining in popularity as holiday spots compared with last year.
- Orlando, Fl
- Anaheim, CA
- Cancun, Mex
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Kahului (Maui) Hawaii
- Montego Bay, Jamaica
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
- Miami, Fl
- Ft. Lauderdale, Fl
- New York, NY
AAA Travel Tip: Airports will be busy and security lines may be longer than usual around the holidays. Travelers should plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to the scheduled departure of their flight. During peak travel times, contact your airline for guidance, as it may be necessary to arrive even earlier. This time of year travelers need to also be aware of potential weather delays. Make sure to check flight status regularly before traveling to the airport. To expedite travel, AAA recommends enrolling in programs such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.
Lockouts, flat tires to strand nearly one million motorists
The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations, and AAA expects to rescue nearly one million (901,600) motorists. Car battery-related issues, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA is called for roadside assistance over the holidays. For members in need of roadside assistance, download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP.
For added convenience, Wazers can now request AAA roadside assistance directly from the Waze app by tapping the Report menu.
Before hitting the road, make sure your vehicle is road-trip ready. Stop by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America, for an inspection. In case of an emergency, be prepared by keeping a cell phone and charger with you at all times. Carry an emergency kit with a flashlight, extra batteries, warning devices such as flares or reflective triangles, jumper cables, a first-aid kit and extra water.
AAA Travel Tip: Get plenty of rest before setting out on a holiday road trip and schedule breaks every two hours or 100 miles to remain alert and avoid driving drowsy. Also, be aware of the dangers of driving distracted. Drivers should designate a passenger to serve as their official text messenger and navigator.
Download the AAA Mobile app before your holiday getaway
Before heading out on your year-end holiday road trip, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Inspected & Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.
About the AAA travel forecast:
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 year-end holiday travel forecast is available here.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than one million members in Connecticut. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.aaa.com.