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Record-Smashing Holiday Travel Projected By AAA

Dec 22, 2016 06:48AM ● By Theresa Gilman

Holiday Travel

(Editor's Note: this content was provided by AAA Northeast.) 

More than 103 million Americans – the most ever on record – are expected to travel for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, according to AAA Northeast. This represents a 1.5 percent increase, or 1.5 million more people traveling, compared with last year.

Massachusetts, with a record number of more than 2,275,000 million travelers expected on the roads and in the skies, will outpace most of the country with an increase of 2.6 percent over 2015. Additional consumer spending, lower gas prices, and increased consumer optimism will all contribute to record travel over the 11-day year-end holiday period.

The vast majority of travelers – 93.6 million people - will take a holiday road trip 50 miles or more from home, up 1.5 percent over last year. Massachusetts will account for more than two million of those motorists. Air travel is expected to increase by 2.5 percent, with more than six million Americans flying to their holiday destinations.

“This year more Americans will travel to celebrate the holidays and enjoy time with friends and family,” said Mary Maguire, AAA Northeast Director of Public and Legislative Affairs. “An improving economy, relatively low gas prices and a generally favorable economic outlook should make for a successful holiday travel season.”

AAA estimates that U.S. drivers have saved more than $27 billion at the gas pumps so far this year. And while this year’s pricing is higher than a year ago, it’s still the lowest pricing found locally since 2009.

“The current Massachusetts average price of $2.17 for gasoline is the same as it was in mid-May, so motorists are unlikely to make price a factor when deciding how far to drive,” Ms. Maguire continued. “Hoteliers, restauranteurs, gas station owners and others dependent on the traveling public will likely be direct beneficiaries of this projected record-setting travel season,” she added.

With the exception of New York City – always a popular holiday destination – warm-weather locales top the list of most popular destinations this holiday season, based on bookings:

  1. Las Vegas
  2. Orlando
  3. New York City
  4. San Diego
  5. Anaheim 

AAA to rescue more than 980,000 motorists this holiday season
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. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

For motorists who may encounter winter weather conditions during their holiday road trips, AAA recommends checking windshield wipers and inspecting tires to ensure safe drivability before setting out. Pack an emergency kit containing a snow shovel, flashlight, ice scraper, jumper cables, warning devices and extra warm clothing for everyone riding in the vehicle. When driving, slow down and do not tailgate. Leave following distances to a minimum of five to six seconds to allow additional braking room should a sudden stop become necessary.

Download the AAA Mobile app before a holiday getaway
Before setting out on a holiday trip, travelers should download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can help map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and 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 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 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.

AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit auto club with 62 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York, providing more than 5.2 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.

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