The U.S. economy is still sluggish and the consumer remains cautious. Yet between Saturday, December 21, and Wednesday, January 1, almost a third of Americans plan to hit the road, according to AAA. That would mark the fifth consecutive year of increased holiday and year-end travel, as well as the highest travel volume recorded for the season.
The 2013/2014 AAA Year-End Holidays Travel Forecast includes the following highlights:
- Holiday travel to total 94.5 million, an increase of 0.6 percent from the 94 million who traveled last year.
- Year-end holiday travel is expected to increase for the fifth consecutive year, reaching a new high since data has been collected by AAA.
- Ninety-one percent of travelers or 85.8 million to travel by automobile, an increase of 0.9 percent.
- Nearly 30 percent (29.7) of all Americans will take a trip this holiday, with more than one in four (27 percent) taking a road trip.
- Holiday air travel is expected to decline slightly to 5.53 million travelers from 5.61 last year.
- Median spending expected to increase slightly to $765, compared to $759 last year.
The calendar also is likely to help spur an increase in holiday travel this year. When the holidays fall on a Wednesday, travelers have more flexibility with their travel plans. They often can begin their trip earlier or extend it through the following weekend.
“Of all the travel holidays, the year-end holiday season remains the least volatile as Americans will not let economic conditions dictate their travel plans to celebrate the holidays,” said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney. “While economic growth has stagnated and consumer confidence has fallen Americans will not be Scrooges when it comes to traveling this year.”