More Americans than ever will travel this holiday season


'Tis the season to spend with family and friends, and this year Americans are traveling in record numbers.

Between Dec. 23 and January 1 AAA expects 107.3 million Americans will be traveling, although Dec. 20 and Dec. 21 may be the busiest time on the roads due to the mixture of commuters and early travelers, AAA said.

AAA projects 2017 to be the highest year-end travel volume on record, with a 3.3 percent increase over 2016.

"More expensive gas prices are not swaying holiday revelers to stay home", AAA senior vice president Bill Sutherland said in a statement. "In fact, across the board this year, travel has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend - Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving - and we project the same for the year-end holiday period".

This will be the highest year-end travel volume on record, the group says, and a 3.1% increase compared with a year ago.

Floridians are also expected to hit the road over the holidays with 5 million of them driving, 306,000 flying and 211,000 traveling by train, bus or cruise ships.

More news: Winds temporarily calm on lines of huge California wildfire
More news: Deadly quake collapses buildings in Java
More news: Smith to take Franken's Senate seat, run in 2018

Traveling in the Chicago area next week for the holidays?

The strong economy and growing consumer confidence has fueled the growth in holiday travel, despite the most expensive year-end gas prices since 2014, according to AAA.

In a potential indication of future demand and discretionary spending for the holidays, consumer prices for all energy commodities are up 16.4 percent from previous year.

The good news is that drivers are unlikely to see a big hike in gas prices, which are averaging $2.47 per gallon. "Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak times altogether or consider alternative routes". At $165, the average year-end holiday airfare for a round-trip ticket on the top 40 domestic routes is at a five-year low, according to AAA's Leisure Travel Index. The only offset is that rental vehicle rates are expected to rise 11% to an average $74 a day.

That would be the sixth consecutive record high for the holiday season, the Heathrow, Florida-based organization said. For that reason, experts are advising travelers to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to the scheduled departure of their flight.