Crowded airports and bustling highways are always a given in the holiday season, but a new report from AAA estimates that the sheer amount of year-end holiday travelers this season will be record-breaking.
According to projections by AAA, about one in three people in the U.S. is traveling for the holiday season, with 100.5 million year-end holiday travelers expected to trek 50 or more miles from home. With a 1.4% increase over last year, it’s the seventh consecutive year of year-end holiday travel growth.
AAA defines the year-end holiday travel period as beginning on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015 and ending on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016.
This is actually good news, if you can believe it. The combination of rising household incomes and continued improvement in the labor market is driving the increase. Reduced gas prices are also affecting travel trends.
Driving remains the most popular way to travel, with more than 90% of travelers (91.3 million) driving to their holiday destinations. About 5.8 million people are expected to fly, while 3.4 million will take other modes of transportation, such as trains and buses. The decision to drive for many was likely influenced by the fact that the national average price for a gallon of gasoline fell below the $2 per gallon benchmark for the first time since March 2009. This time last year the average was $2.31.
AAA did not offer any word on how many people plan to charter a private jet for their year-end holiday travel, but considering the popularity of jet charter services, it’s likely that they’ll be doing much traveling. As reported by Forbes, the Cessna Citation Excel, the most popular model of private jet in the U.S., took off on 144,302 flights in 2012.
However, year-end holiday travelers would be wise to account for the weather. Although there’ll be no major blizzards to snarl U.S. airline flights this Christmas, warm weather will bring with it fog, rain, and even thunderstorms.