AAA releases their 2017 holiday travel forecast

More Americans than ever will travel this holiday season

AAA releases their 2017 holiday travel forecast

On a national level, AAA forecasts 107.3 million Americans will be traveling during the holiday period - again, the highest year-end travel volume on record.

Since 2005, total year-end holiday travel volume has grown by 21.6 million, an increase of more than 25%.

"Overall, our research shows that Americans are doing better than previous year and want to go somewhere for the holidays", said Vicky Evans, Assistant Vice President, AAA Travel.

"Across the board this year, travel has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend - Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving - and we project the same for the year-end holiday period", says Amy Parmenter, a spokesperson for AAA in Greater Hartford.

AAA reports that rental costs at the airport have increased 11 percent over a year ago.

More than 107 million people are expected to drive, ride and fly to holiday destinations across the nation, choking highways in major metro areas in the process, according to the American Automobile Association.

"Depending on where your travels take you, consider using a travel agent to plan your final trip of the year", Evans added.

If you're planning to travel to see loved ones, or at least those you tolerate, this holiday season, it'll be a bad news/good news scenario.

That's despite gas prices being expected to jump almost 40 cents nationally from 2016, from $2.17 to $2.53 per gallon, according to the association's holiday forecast [PDF], produced by IHS Markit.

Drivers are getting an early Christmas present: Gas prices are dropping just in time for the busy travel season.

"We are also seeing that the labor market is doing very well, consumers have more money in their pockets and are more confident. they are spending that money and are contributing more to travel", said AAA spokesperson Tamra Johnson. At $165, the average end of year holiday airfare for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes is at a five-year low, according to AAA's Leisure Travel Index. AAA pointed to data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles which showed more than 10,000 accidents in last year's holiday season.

For consumer prices in general, the U.S. Labor Department reported average prices paid in November rose 2.2 percent from past year.

Moving into two straight weeks of USA holiday travel, AAA said there could be some relief at the pump, but gas prices are expensive by historic standards.

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