AAA: Nearly 3 million Virginians will travel for holidays

aaaNearly 3 million Virginians—the most on record—are expected to travel for the year-end holidays, according to AAA.

This represents a 2.3 percent increase compared to last year.  Nationwide, more than 100 million Americans will travel for the long holiday (Friday, December 23 to Monday, January 2, 2017), representing a 1.5 percent increase compared to last year and the most on record for the holiday.

“While AAA record keeping has changed slightly over the years, it is safe to say that this is the most since our organization began keeping records 20 years ago and quite likely the most ever. To put that into perspective, not since before the Back Street Boys debuted, Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive MLB game, The Macarena and movies like Jerry Maguire topped the charts have this many people traveled in Virginia and across the country,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “This year’s record breaking forecast is due primarily to rising incomes and lower gas prices than in years past.” As the motorists advocate, AAA reminds everyone to put safety first by buckling up and driving sober and distracted free.

AAA Year End Holiday Forecast Highlights

 Total Travel & Percentage  Automobile Travel &  Percentage  Air Travel & Percentage  Other Modes Of Travel &  Percentage
Virginia  2,937,551 Virginians

Up 2.3 percent from  2,870,148 in 2015


(90 percent)

Up 2.3 percent from  2,587,043 in 2015


(5.5 percent)

Up 3.2 percent from  155,772 in 2015


(4.5 percent)

Up 2.6 percent from  127,333 in 2015

National   103,123,000 Americans

Up 1.5 percent from  101,580,000 in 2015


(90.7 percent)

Up 1.5 percent from  92,153,000 in 2015


(5.9 percent)

Up 2.5 percent from  5,908,000 in 2015


(3.4 percent)

Down .3 percent from  3,519,000 in 2015

The increase in holiday travel this year is being driven by additional consumer spending, a result of improvements in the labor market and rising wages. Additionally, gas prices are lower than in years past and 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.

New Year’s gas prices second-cheapest in nearly a decade
AAA estimates U.S. drivers have saved more than $27 billion at the gas pumps so far this year compared to the same period last year. As of Wednesday, December 14th, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.22, 22 cents more than the average price on New Year’s Day 2016 ($2.00). Most U.S. drivers will pay the second-cheapest New Year’s Day gas prices since 2009, when the national average was $1.62.

Holiday airfares, hotel rates and car rental prices mixed
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, holiday airfares are projected to average $204 for a roundtrip flight along the top 40 domestic routes. Rates for AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated lodgings are expected to increase 7 percent, with travelers spending an average of $128 and $160 per night, respectively. Daily car rental rates will average $66, slightly lower than last year’s holiday travel season.

Warm-weather destinations top the list of most popular holiday destinations
With the exception of New York City—an-ever popular holiday destination—warm-weather locales in Nevada, Florida and California top the list of most popular destinations for this holiday season, based on bookings.

  1. Las Vegas, Nevada
  2. Orlando, Florida
  3. New York City
  4. San Diego, California
  5. Anaheim, California

AAA to rescue more than 980,000 motorists this holiday season
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, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

For motorists who may encounter winter weather conditions during their holiday road trips, AAA recommends checking windshield wipers and inspecting tires to ensure safe drivability before setting out. Pack an emergency kit containing a snow shovel, flashlight, ice scraper, jumper cables, warning devices and extra warm clothing for everyone riding in the vehicle. When driving, slow down and do not tailgate. Leave following distances to a minimum of five to six seconds to allow additional braking room should a sudden stop become necessary.

Download the AAA Mobile app before a holiday getaway
Before setting out on a holiday trip, travelers should download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can help map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. 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.

About the travel forecast:
The projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS 2016 year-end holiday travel forecast can be found here.

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