A record number of travelers will take to the highways and airways over the year-end holidays this year, according to AAA. The auto club predicts 98.6 million Americans, including 893,000 Oklahomans, will journey 50 miles or more from home.
The strong travel numbers mark the highest forecast growth rate for year-end holidays since 2009 and the highest travel volume on record for the holiday period, AAA reports.
“The U.S. economy is improving, although erratically, and it seems more of us are looking forward with increasing consumer confidence, rather than looking back at the recession,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “Add in today’s extraordinarily low gasoline prices, and AAA believes travel volumes will reach levels never seen before.”
Highlights from AAA’s Travel Forecast:
• In Oklahoma, 3.6 percent more people (for a total of 893,000) will be traveling over the year-end holidays this year than last year. Of this number, 838,000 will be getting there by motor vehicle, a 3.7 percent increase; 48,150 by air, up 1.8 percent; and 6,850 by other means, including bus, train, multi-modal and boat, a boost of 2.2 percent over the 2013 holidays.
• Nationwide, 98.6 million Americans will travel, an increase of four percent from the 94.8 million who traveled last year: 89.5 million by motor vehicle, up 4.2 percent; 5.7 million will fly, one percent more than last year; and 3.4 million will travel by other means, up three percent.
• Low gas prices continue to help boost disposable income this holiday season. Today’s Oklahoma average price for regular gasoline is $2.27 per gallon, 65 cents less than a year ago and down $1.26 from the state’s 2014 high of $3.53 recorded on June 26.
• The nationwide average price of gas today is $2.53, down 70 cents from this date last year. The U.S. average has fallen for 82 consecutive days.
• Airfares are down seven percent this year, primarily due to the availability of discounted tickets from low-cost carriers.
• Room rates at AAA Three Diamond-rated hotels are up four percent this year to an average of $143 per night and rates at AAA Two Diamond-rated properties are running five percent more than last year at $108 per night.
• Daily car rental rates will average $66 over the holidays, four percent higher than last year.
“Another reason more of us are deciding to travel this year is the calendar,” said Mai. “Christmas and New Year’s Day land on Thursdays this year, creating a holiday travel season that is one day longer than last year’s and offering more options for departures and return trips. This flexibility makes it possible for more people to fit holiday travel into their schedules.”
AAA expects to rescue 7,900 Oklahomans and 1.1 million Americans this holiday season
Based on past years’ data, AAA is ready to come to the rescue of more than 1.1 million motorists nationwide, including 7,900 in Oklahoma, during what AAA defines as the holiday period,Tuesday, Dec. 23 to Sunday, Jan. 4. The top reasons for these calls to AAA Oklahoma are expected to be for a tow, because of a dead battery and to service members who have locked their keys in their vehicle. AAA recommends motorists check battery and tire condition and prepare vehicles for winter driving before heading out. Car care tips and information are available at AAA.com.
AAA’s digital tools for travel planning-on-the-go include the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
On AAA.com, travelers can find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond-rated hotels and restaurants using the TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for price and services.