Wed December 14, 2011
Year end holiday road travel to increase
The Automobile Association of America is out with its most robust holiday travel forecast in a couple of years.
The AAA estimates 90-million people will travel 50 miles of more away from home over Christmas and New Year's, the busiest travel time of the year. This compares to 42 million over Thanksgiving, the next busiest travel time.
"Ever since '09, we've seen a stagnant or even a little lower number of people traveling," said Wally Smith, Vice President of AAA.
Smith said the holidays are the most family and friends oriented time of the year, so people are once again making room in their holiday budgets for travel. He says the vast majority of travelers will take to the road.
"About $3.60 today is the price in the Buffalo Niagara region for a gallon of gas. That's 43 cents more for a gallon than last year. However, we're down from what we experienced in the spring and early summer of over $4. I think it was $4.15. So people are seeing that and they feel it's a little more affordable," said Smith.
Smith advises road warriors to make sure their vehicle is in good working condition before taking a long trip and to keep emergency items handy.
"Some things like keep an extra blanket in the trunk. There are kits you can buy with flares, even first aid kits, scrapers. Just so you're prepared if you break down," said Smith.
Of course, others will take to the skies to visit loved ones and that will mean dealing with airport security. He really wants to emphasize that travelers don't take gift-wrapped packages through airport security. They'll probably end up being unwrapped. So either send them in the mail or wrap them when you arrive at your holiday destination.
AAA is out Wednesday with its latest travel numbers. It forecasts 91.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the 2011-12 Year-End holiday travel season, a 1.4 percent increase over the 90.7 million people who traveled one year ago.
This year’s expected Year-End holiday travel volume is the second highest in the past decade and represents 30 percent of the total U.S. population.
AAA defines the Year-End holiday travel season as Friday, December 23, 2011 to Monday, January 2, 2012.
“The 11-day Year-End holiday period is the longest holiday travel season of the year, affording many more Americans time to visit family or take vacations,” said Tom Chestnut, President/CEO of AAA Western and Central New York. “This is also a positive sign for the travel industry as we anticipate the second highest year-end holiday travel volume in the past ten years.”