AAA: One-in-Three Americans Will Travel this Holiday Season, the Most on Record

More than 2 million Arizonans will travel for the holidays, the most in state history
12/13/18
Travel

AAA projects a record-breaking 112.5 million Americans will travel this holiday season, meaning more than one-third of all Americans will take to the nation’s roads and skies later this month. That includes more than 2 million Arizona travelers, up nearly 5 percent from 2017.
 
“This is projected to be the busiest holiday travel season in Arizona’s history,” said Michelle Donati, spokeswoman for AAA Arizona. “There will be about 100,000 more Arizonans traveling in 2018 compared with last year, which was AAA’s previous record forecast. This continues a nationwide trend of holiday travel growth over the last decade, driven by low unemployment and rising incomes, as well as stable prices for goods and services.”
 
By the Numbers: AAA’s 2018 Holiday Travel Forecast

  • Hitting the Road: The vast majority of Arizonans - more than 1.9 million - will hit the road between Saturday, Dec. 22 and Tuesday, Jan. 1, an increase of 4.9 percent over last year’s auto traffic. Although gas prices have been falling, motorists can expect to pay the highest holiday gas prices in years, with a statewide average of $2.75 as of December 10, 40 cents more than a year ago.
     
  • Fuller skies: More than 156,000 Arizonans will take flight, up nearly 5 percent from last year. Expect the nation’s airports to be busy — this is AAA’s highest projected air travel forecast since 2003.
     
  • Car rental costs rising: Travelers can expect to pay the highest prices for car rentals in 10 years. At $76, the average daily rate is 3 percent higher than last year.
     
  • Hotel prices mixed: Travelers will also pay a bit more at AAA Two Diamond hotels, where prices are 1 percent more than last year, or $122 per night. Conversely, the average rate for AAA Three Diamond hotels has fallen 3 percent to an average nightly cost of $152.

INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, expects drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion before the holiday week – starting on Wednesday, Dec. 19 – as commuters and holiday travelers mix on our nation’s busiest roadways. Thursday, Dec. 20 will be the nation’s worst day to travel. Avoid traveling during peak commuting hours. If schedules allow, leave bright and early, or after the morning commute.
 
This holiday season, Saturday, December 22, Sunday, December 23 and Wednesday, December 26 will be the busiest days in the skies and at the airports.

“In most cases, the lightest days to travel will be on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve,” Donati said. “Travelers should expect big crowds at airports, and should be prepared to arrive at least two hours before their departure.”

AAA to Rescue Over 960,000 Motorists:
AAA expects to rescue more than 960,0000 motorists at the roadside over the 11-day travel period. Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown.

AAA offers a variety of travel resources. This includes AAA Mobile, a free app for Smartphone users. The app uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, locate nearby discounts, summon roadside assistance, find current gas prices and more. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.

About INRIX:
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small. Learn more at INRIX.com.

About AAA Arizona:
AAA has a proud history of serving Members for over 100 years. AAA is on a mission to create Members for life by unleashing the innovative spirit of 4,000 employees representing nearly 6 million Members across Northern California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. In addition to legendary roadside assistance, AAA offers home, auto and life insurance, and extraordinary travel services. According to Via Magazine's Smart Guide, being a AAA Member can save you more than $1,200 a year. Learn more at AAA.com.