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Higher costs not discouraging holiday travel this year

17 December 2017

Roughly 107.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles (80 km) or more from home during December 23 through January 1, a 3.1 percent increase from a year earlier and the most ever recorded, AAA said in a report. The "highest year-end holiday travel volume on record", will put more than 97 million people on the roads (up 3 percent from previous years), and 6.4 million in the sky (up 4.1 percent).

"More expensive gas prices are not swaying holiday revelers to stay home", AAA's Bill Sutherland said in a statement. "Travel volume has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend in 2017 - 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 previous year.

About 94.7 million Americans will travel by vehicle, 6.4 million will travel by plane and 3.6 million will travel by train, buses and cruise ships, AAA said.

Steady economic growth continues to drive this year's increase in travel, as stronger employment, rising incomes, low prices for goods and services, and increasing household assets are leading to more consumer spending. If your schedule permits, traveling on the holiday itself often results in fewer cars on the road as well.

While there may be no way to get around traveling for the holidays, there are some tips to keep your sanity.

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"With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in major metros", Graham Cookson, chief economist & head of research at INRIX, said in the release.

Cheaper gas prices, airfare and hotel rates all contribute to the increase in travel.

Gas prices jumped more than 10 percent after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, peaking on September 8 at an average of $2.67 a gallon. 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.

For those traveling by plane, AAA says it's best to prepare for the crunch - particularly long security lines.

INRIX, which partnered with AAA, use a combination of historical data and recent travel trends on specific highways and interstates, to estimate travel times during peak periods.

For consumer prices in general, the U.S. Labor Department reported average prices paid in November rose 2.2 percent from previous year.

Higher costs not discouraging holiday travel this year