Modestly priced gasoline and a relatively strong economy will drive almost 100 million people to leave home by car this year for vacation. This means about 40% of adults will travel on these trips, mostly this summer.
The AAA says vacation travel will be up somewhat from last year. In detail, 68% of families who travel will do so over the summer. About 45% will go this spring. Based on the total of these percentages, obviously, some will take trips during both seasons.
Gas prices, despite their recent rise, are about $0.25 a gallon lower than they were last year. If prices do not rise more, the AAA reports that about a third of American families will add a trip. Some researchers, including GasBuddy, expected prices to rise another $0.10 in the next week, which already has increased the cost of travel per day in the United States by $135 million, and then flatten as more refineries come online to produce gas for the period when driving increases. This runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Gas prices vary substantially from over $3 in much of California to just about $2 in some of the Gulf States.
The AAA says many of the families who travel will go to the southern states, at about 62%. Only 35% will drive toward the Northeast. Stacey Barber, executive director, AAA Travel Information & Content, said: “This is quickly shaping up to be another busy year for family travelers, both on the roadways, as well as other popular travel destinations and attractions.”
People will go to many of the traditional locations that families visits for vacation. The AAA looked at travel patterns to forecast these locations. Many people plan trips to the National Parks in the Arizona, Nevada and Utah deserts. Others will travel to northern California and Oregon, up and down the Pacific Coast and through some of the nation’s largest forests. The organization said it expects vacationers also will travel to the mountain areas of the Northeast, particularly the Berkshires in western Massachusetts and the Green Mountains of Vermont. Still, others will use the Blue Ridge Parkway and other roads in the region to visit areas in the Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Finally, the AAA expects, based on its research, people will drive to South Dakota’s Black Hills, which is, among other things, the location of Mount Rushmore.
The AAA has some advice for travelers. Stop every 100 miles or so as a means to stay alert. Pack cars with things that will entertain people as they travel. Assume some roads will be very crowded, particularly around major tourist designations. Some American cities are among those that have the worst traffic in the world. Don’t travel without mapping trips out in advance.
The AAA reports that the research used to come to its conclusions about travel plans were done by telephone between January 24 and January 27.