The American Automobile Association (AAA) is predicting a slight decline in the number of Americans traveling during the holiday period.
Nearly 63.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home over the holiday travel period, a decrease of 1.4 million travelers (2.1%) from last year’s total of 65.3 million. This is the first decline in Christmas holiday travelers since 2002.
“The year-to-year decrease in the number of travelers this holiday season reflects the continuing impact that the economic downturn has had on many Americans,” said AAA Washington spokesperson Jennifer Cook. “However, the total volume of travelers this Christmas will still be the third largest we’ve seen since 2000.”
Over Christmas week, AAA estimates more than 52.4 million Americans (82% of all holiday travelers) intend to travel by automobile, a 1.2% decrease from the 53 million people who drove last year. The decline in travelers by car comes despite a record-fast plunge in gasoline prices.
Approximately 8.1 million (13% of holiday travelers) expect to travel by airplane, an 8.5% decline from 8.9 million last year. More than 3.33 million Americans plan to travel by train, bus or other mode of transportation, including RV. That is an increase of 0.7% from a year ago.
AAA Washington believes most holiday travelers are driving to Southern California, Arizona or staying closer to home with destinations in state.