Money Matters - Simplified

Millions of Americans expected to hit the road for holidays

AAA is predicting a 10 percent reduction in air travel nationwide and a 2.1 percent boost in road travel this season compared to 2010.

The holiday rush is underway. Millions of Americans will hit the roads and take to the skies as they head to their holiday destinations this Christmas and New Year's.

An estimated 92 million people are expected to pack up their bags and get going from Friday.

The figure is a 1.4 percent increase from last year, according to a survey by the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Nearly 30 percent of the nation will be traveling for 50 miles or more for New Year's.

"The 11-day year-end holiday period is the longest travel season of the year, providing many Americans time to visit family or take vacations,” said Jim Lehman, AAA East Central executive vice president.

He added, “Traditionally, the holidays are a time of rest and rejuvenation before the new year.”

Traveling started picking up during Thanksgiving, this year, a clear indication that people are financially stable and feeling upbeat about the economy.

Holiday travel picking up
The Christmas of 2006 recorded the highest travel volume with approximately 93.65 million people traveling, but then it started declining.

Holiday travel was slightly lower in 2007-2009 due of economic slowdown. There were 88.7 million travelers in 2007, 85.7 million in 2008, 89.5 million in 2009 and 90.7 million in the holiday season of 2010.

Traveling started picking up during Thanksgiving, this year, a clear indication that people are financially stable and feeling upbeat about the economy.

“It’s a positive sign for the travel industry that so many Americans are planning to travel this holiday season, collectively contributing to the second-highest year-end holiday travel volume in the past 10 years,” said AAA Alabama spokesperson Clay Ingram.

Road travel up
There appears to be an increase in road travel this holiday season.

AAA is predicting a 10 percent reduction in air travel nationwide and a 2.1 percent boost in road travel this season compared to 2010.

Approximately 83.6 million people plan to take to the roadways and about 5.4 million will fly during the season.

Moreover, 2.9 million will use buses, trains and watercrafts as their mode of transportation, an increase by 4.2 percent.

AAA Oklahoma Spokesperson Chuck Mai stated, “Our survey has shown that airfares are 21 percent higher this year compared to last year, so that I think has encouraged a lot of us to drive instead, particularly since gasoline prices.