More than 103 million Americans will travel for the year-end holidays, according to AAA’s “Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast.” This represents a 1.5 percent increase, or 1.5 million more travelers than last year, and the highest total volume since AAA began tracking holiday travel data.
“This will be the most-traveled year-end holiday season on record, particularly for those who drive,” said Joseph J. Richardson Jr., president and CEO, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “If you are planning a road trip, now is the time to get your vehicle inspected.”
The increase in holiday travel this year is being driven by additional consumer spending, which is a result of improvements in the labor market and rising wages.
Additionally, increased consumer optimism will prompt more Americans than ever to set out on road trips, take to the skies or board trains, buses and cruise ships to celebrate the holidays.
The estimates indicate that 103.1 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Dec. 23, 2016 to Jan. 2, 2017.
A record number of Americans will drive (93.6 million).
Six million Americans will fly – the fourth-highest volume of air passengers (the top three were 2002-03 – 7.3 million, 2003-04 – 7.1 million, and 2004-05 – 6.4 million) “Other modes” volume fell 0.3 percent (10,000 fewer Americans than 2015). The decline is attributed to a shift toward more auto and air travelers.
Compared to last year, average prices are $75 higher for airfares ($204) and $2 lower for car rentals ($66).
AAA expects to rescue more than 980,000 motorists over the 11-day holiday travel period, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. Drivers should have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop.
What follows are some of the top safe driving tips for drivers:
• Slow down, allow yourself plenty of time.
• Drive sober, do not drink alcohol or take impairing drugs (legal or illegal).
• Pay attention, eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, mind on the task of driving.
• Buckle up, or using appropriate child restraint devices; they’re the best defense in a crash.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting.
AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.

Photo courtesy of the Federal Highway Administration