Christmas travel predicted to break records; top 100 million

Christmas travel predicted to break records; top 100 million
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A record 100 million U.S. residents will travel at least 50 miles away from home over the upcoming Christmas holiday, according to a travel forecast released Tuesday by the AAA auto club. 

The figure, officially 100.5 million, is a 1.4 percent increase over 2014 travel during the Christmas holiday, which is defined as the period between Dec. 23 and Jan 3. 

The auto club said this year will see the seventh-consecutive year of increased Christmas travel if the prediction is accurate. 


“The holidays are a time for joining with friends and family, and the record number of people traveling this holiday should make for a joyous travel season,” AAA President Marshall Doney said in a statement. 

“Rising incomes and low gas prices are helping to fill stockings this year, and more people than ever will choose to spend those savings on travel this year,” he continued.

AAA attributed part of the predicted increase to improving economic conditions and lower gas prices in the U.S., which the group has said are dipping close to $2.00-per-gallon on average. 

"The national average price for a gallon of gasoline remains poised to fall below the $2 per gallon benchmark by Christmas," AAA said. "Today’s national average is $2.01, 55 cents less than last year. AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest gas prices on New Year’s Day since 2009." 

The auto club predicted that 91.3 million of the anticipated Christmas travelers will be driving to their holiday destinations, which is a 1.4 percent increase over the number of road trips taken in 2014 around the holiday. 

Another 5.8 million people are predicted to be flying to their destination, which is a 0.7 percent increase over last year’s air travel numbers. AAA said 3.4 million other trips will include trains, buses and cruise ships, which is a 2.4 percent increase over 2014 levels. 

Christmas airline passengers will face ticket prices predicted to cost an average of $174, which is six percent lower than last year's prices, according to AAA.

Hotel prices, meanwhile, are estimated to to average about $174 per night for a AAA three-diamond hotel, which the group said is approximately four percent higher than 2014's numbers during the same time period.