AAA: 112.7M Americans to travel for year-end holidays

(ABC 6 News) – ‘Tis the season to travel, and AAA estimates that 112.7 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home for the year-end holidays.

AAA says the Dec. 23 to Jan. 2 period will be the third busiest since the agency began tracking in 2000 with 3.6 million more people traveling this year compared to last.

In the West Central Region which includes, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska, 8.8 million travelers will journey 50 miles or more away from home making it the fourth highest travel volume for the region on record.

According to AAA, the national travel numbers are stronger than 2021, yet slightly lower than pre-pandemic levels.

“Despite inflationary pressures, consumers remain resilient and dedicated to travel this year, and the holidays will be no different,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Americans are spending more on travel than any other time in the past two years. The good news is the cost for a holiday road trip will be less expensive than anticipated, now that gas prices are on the way down.”

AAA says air travel will see a 14% increase over last year, with nearly 7.2 million Americans expected to fly. Demand for flights has surged despite higher airline ticket prices with AAA saying airfare costs are 6% more than last year.

Meanwhile, nationwide, 90% of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations. Road trippers are getting an early gift as gas prices continue to fall. On Monday, the average price for a gallon of gas in Minnesota was $3.07/gallon, and in Iowa it was $2.94/gallon.

RELATED: Gas prices continue to drop across the region

“Since most Americans have already made their holiday travel plans, these plunging pump prices may not necessarily lead to more auto travelers,” said Meredith Mitts, Public Affairs Specialist for AAA Minnesota-Iowa; The Auto Club Group. “What we often see instead is consumers reallocating the added savings, spending more on hotels, shopping and dining out.”

According to INRIX, a provider of transportation analytics and insights, the most congested days on the road are forecast to be Friday before Christmas, Dec. 27 and 28, and on Monday, Jan. 2. INRIX predicts the single busiest travel day will be Tuesday, Dec. 27th. The best advice for avoiding congestion is to leave early in the morning or later in the evening.