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More than 1 in 4 Americans Will Take to the Road

The automotive group AAA says that with 93.3 million Americans expected to take a trip this holiday season, with holiday travel to increase by 1.6 percent

Editor's Note: The following information is a press release from AAA New Jersey.

AAA projects 2.2 million New Jerseyans will join 93.3 million Americans in traveling 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holidays, an increase last year. This increase brings holiday travel figures to within half a million of the decade high mark seen during the 2006/2007 season. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Saturday, Dec. 22 to Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. 

“Year-end travel paints an optimistic picture, in New Jersey and across the country,” said Cathleen Lewis, director of Public Affairs for AAA New Jersey.  “Travel distances and spending all show modest improvement from last year and AAA is projecting an increase in the number of Americans stuffing their stockings with airline tickets and hotel reservations.”

Travel by the Numbers:

Automobile

  • New Jersey—2,054,143 (89.7 percent of all travelers), an increase of 1.1 percent from 2011

  • Nationally—84.3 million (90 percent of all travelers), representing a 1.3 percent increase from the nearly 83 million who drove last year.

 Air

  • New Jersey—154,792 (6.7 percent of all travelers), reflecting a 4.3 percent increase from those who took to the skies last year.

  • Nationally—5.6 million (6 percent of all travelers), an increase of 4.5 percent from 2011.

 Train, Bus, Watercraft or Multi-Modal Travel

  • New Jersey—79,616 (3.4 percent of all travelers), an increase of 6.8 percent from one year ago.

  • Nationally— 3.2 million (3.5 percent of all travelers), a 5.4 percent increase from 2011.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

AAA estimates the national average price of gasoline will slowly drop through the end of the year and average between $3.20-3.40 a gallon by New Year’s Day. Gas prices dropped about 50 cents a gallon on average from September through early December, but remain at record highs for this time of year. AAA does not expect gas prices to have a major impact on travel volume, but consumers could have more money to spend on holiday shopping, dining and entertainment if prices drop through December as expected.

Year-End Holiday gas prices, average per gallon, in New Jersey for the past five years:

2012: $3.32

2011: $3.12

2010: $2.94

2009: $2.50

2008: $1.51

Average travel distance increases

According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during holiday period is expected to be 760 miles, further than last year when travelers planned to log 726 miles. 

Median spending up nearly six percent; top activities are dining and spending time with loved ones

Median spending is expected to be $759, a six percent increase compared to the expected median spending of intended holiday travelers ($718) last year.

Dining (67 percent) and spending time with family and friends (66 percent) and are the most popular activities planned by travelers. It is not surprising that during holiday season shopping is the third most popular activity with 57 percent expecting to shop. More than one-third (34 percent) of holiday travelers plan to sightsee during their trips.

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for 101 top North American destinations, available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, regions, like Wine Country, and National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, Android and iPad uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn about the AAA Mobile app and AAA Mobile Web at AAA.com/mobile

On AAA.com, travelers can find thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s 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 amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight 2012/13 Year-endHoliday Travel Forecast can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com. 

Locally, the AAA New Jersey Automobile Club, headquartered in Florham Park, provides automotive, travel, insurance, financial and educational services to its more than 400,000 members in Essex, Morris and Union Counties. The AAA New Jersey Automobile Club also owns and operates New Jersey’s first AAA Car Care Center, located in Springfield, N.J.

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