Travel Trends

AAA Projects Christmas-News Year's Travel Up Two Percent

- AAA reports that Christmas-New Year's holiday travel should increase by more than two percent from 2002. An estimated 59.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, up 2.4 percent from the 58.2 million who traveled last year.

The vast majority of holiday travelers -- approximately 48.5 million (81 percent) -- expect to go by motor vehicle, a 2.5 percent increase from the 47.3 million who drove a year ago. Another 8.3 million (14 percent) plan to go by airplane, up 2 percent from the 8.1 million who flew last winter holiday. A projected 2.8 million vacationers (5 percent) will go by train, bus or other mode of transportation.

"Most traveling Americans will drive to see family and friends this Christmas-New Year's holiday," said Dawn Duffy, AAA spokesperson. "But this long winter break that includes two weeks for many families will provide millions of travelers the opportunity to fly to vacation spots for a break from work and school."

Auto travelers will find gas prices about 10 cents higher than they were a year ago. The current national average of $1.47 for a gallon of self-serve regular unleaded is two cents lower than it was for Thanksgiving.

The greatest number of Christmas-New Year's auto travelers will originate in the Southeast with 12.6 million; followed by the West, 12.1 million; Midwest, 9.9 million; Great Lakes, 7.7 million; and Northeast, 6.2 million.

The West and Southeast are expected to produce the largest number of air travelers, each with 2.4 million, followed by the Northeast, 1.6 million; Midwest, 1 million; and Great Lakes, 900,000.

Cities top the list of preferred destinations with 38 percent of the travel volume. Towns and rural areas are the destination for 32 percent of travelers, followed by oceans and beaches, 10 percent; mountains, nine percent; lakes, two percent; theme/amusement parks, two percent; and state parks, one percent. Another four percent responded with other and two percent said they didn't know.

Of the total Christmas-New Year's travelers, 60 percent will stay with friends or relatives and another 24 percent expect to stay at a hotel/motel. Other overnight plans include cabin/condo, seven percent; camper/trailer/RV/tent, one percent; other one percent; no overnight stay, four percent; and didn't know, three percent.

AAA's holiday travel figures are based on a national telephone survey of 1,300 adults by the Travel Industry Association of America.

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