More than 103 million Americans will trek more than 50 miles from their home this year, an increase of 1.5 percent over last year and the largest number of travelers since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2001, the auto lobbying group said.
Driving remains the most popular mode of travel. More than 93 million people will go by car this holiday, AAA said.
“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. Look for a facility displaying the ‘AAA Approved Auto Repair’ sign to ensure a trustworthy inspection that could catch any problems before they arise.”
The upward trend is expected to continue as the petroleum futures market reacts to oil production cutbacks announced by both OPEC and non-OPEC nations. The cutbacks, aimed at raising oil prices and boosting the energy industry, aren’t expected to start until January.
The auto group said that New Year’s Day prices could be at their highest level in three years.
“Gasoline will likely cost more on New Year’s Day 2017 than the year before, and could rival levels set on January 1, 2015,” AAA said. “In Florida, the average price on New Year’s Day was $2.00 in 2016 and $2.34 in 2015. Most U.S. drivers will pay the second or third-cheapest New Year’s Day gas prices since 2009, when the average was $1.62 nationwide and $1.64 in Florida.”
Florida’s average for a gallon of regular stood at $2.29 on Wednesday, 7 cents higher than the national average.
Palm Beach County’s average for a gallon of regular rose 7 cents in the last week to $2.37 Monday, AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report shows.
The auto group said more than 5.3 million Floridians are expected to travel this holiday, up 3.1 percent from last year. Roughly 4.9 million of them will go by car.
Nationally, 6 million Americans will travel by air this season, an increase of 2.5 percent over last year.
Compared to last year, airfare prices are $30 higher on average, the auto group said. Hotel rates are also up slightly, the group added.
Orlando is expected to be one of the top 5 travel destinations in the country, according to AAA. The central Florida city ranked second on the list, falling behind Las Vegas, another popular warm weather getaway.