Are you traveling somewhere this holiday season? By no means will you be alone on U.S. highways, byways and skyways. Approximately 92 million Americans plan to travel between now and Jan. 2, 2012, according to AAA. This is a slight increase – 1.4 percent – over the number of holiday travelers last year. AAA’s projections are based on research by IHS Global Insight, an economic research and consulting firm.
Of the 92 million intrepid holiday travelers:
- Approximately 91 percent (83.6 million people) will take to the nation’s roadways;
- Some 6 percent (5.4 million) will fly;
- About 3 percent (2.9 million people) will employ another mode of transportation (not counting reindeer-driven sleighs).
What are people paying for gas this year as compared with last? The average price of $3.21 is 23 cents higher. Statewide, the average gas price of $3.53 is also 31 cents higher. The price of gas nationally peaked May 5, at $3.98; In Westchester County the high price was $4.28 in April.
The skyways will be less crowded. This year’s air travel volume is the seventh lowest in the past decade, with nearly 2 million fewer travelers expected to fly than during the peak 2002 holiday season. Jet fuel costs, airline capacity cuts and higher airfares are all to blame for the dearth of holiday air travelers.
“Despite the downturn in air travel, this year’s overall travel numbers are good news for the travel industry,” says AAA's Fran Mayko.
“This year’s overall represent the second highest expected travel volume in the past decade and represents about 30 percent of the total U.S. population," she said, adding holiday travel peaked in 2006-2007 when we saw 93.7 million folks traveling. "Also, more people appear to be traveling because this year’s 11-day year-end period – the longest holiday travel season of the year – affords many Americans extra time to visit family or take vacations.”
Fifty-nine percent of travelers feel the economy has either no impact on their travel plans or they feel like things have improved for them. This, says Mayko, is another reminder of just how important traveling is to Americans.
Wherever and however you travel, do so safely.