Economy Watch: Record Number of Americans to Travel for Holidays This Year

This year marks the ninth consecutive year of rising year-end holiday travel, with 2017 volume set to be the highest year-end travel volume on record, according to AAA.

Photo via Flickr user lunchtimemama
Photo via Flickr user lunchtimemama

Just as we saw over the Thanksgiving travel season, the holiday travel season this year promises good news for restaurants, hotels and probably even the likes of Airbnb. According to AAA, 107.3 million Americans will travel during the year-end holiday period from Saturday, Dec. 23, through Monday, Jan. 1, on trips more than 50 miles from home.

That will be the highest year-end travel volume on record and a 3.1 percent increase compared with last year. Also, 2017 marks the ninth consecutive year of rising year-end holiday travel. Since 2005, total year-end holiday travel volume has grown by 21.6 million, an increase of more than 25 percent.

Top Modes, Destinations

Some 90 percent of holiday travelers will choose to drive, and find the most expensive gas prices since 2014. This December’s (Dec. 1 to Dec. 13) national average price is $2.47/gallon, which is 28 cents more than the same period last year. On the other hand, AAA expects the average to drop at least another five cents by year-end.

For travelers who are flying, holiday airfares are nearly 20 percent cheaper than last year. At $165, the average end-of-year holiday airfare for a round-trip flight on the top 40 domestic routes is at a five-year low. Competition, capacity over-expansion and lower oil prices contributed to the decline.

For a second year, Orlando and Anaheim, Calif., top this year’s top 10 holiday destinations, based on AAA.com bookings. Warmer weather destinations are unsurprisingly popular as well, with Cancun, Kahului (Maui) and Montego Bay gaining compared with last year.