U.S. Holiday Travel to Rise to Six-Year High, AAA Says

U.S. travel during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays will be 1.6 percent greater than last year and the most since the 2006-2007 season, AAA said.

About 93.3 million people will journey 50 miles or more from Dec. 22 to Jan. 1, the nation’s biggest motoring organization said in a statement today. That’s up from 91.8 million a year earlier and the fourth consecutive gain.

“The primary economic indicators all show improvements from one year ago, but there does not exist the kind of strong consistent growth necessary to encourage stronger travel growth,” AAA said.

Automobile drivers and passengers will account for 84.4 million of the holiday travelers, up 1.3 percent from last year and the most in AAA records dating to 2002. They’ll make up a smaller part of the total than in 2011, 90 percent compared with 91 percent.

The number of air travelers will rise 4.5 percent to 5.6 million. Air travel will account for 6 percent of all travel, up from 5.9 percent a year earlier.

The lowest average published airfares will fall 3 percent to $203 for round-trip tickets, AAA said, while the daily rental rate for a mid-sized car will jump 40 percent to $56.

Americans will spend approximately $759 a household, up 5.7 percent from $718 last year, to travel during the holiday. The average distance traveled will be 760 miles, compared with an estimated 726 miles a year earlier.

Regular gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, increased 1.1 percent this year to $3.315 a gallon on Dec. 11, AAA said on its website.

The Dec. 25 Christmas holiday and New Year’s Day fall on Tuesdays this year.

AAA’s projections are based on research by IHS Global Insight of Lexington, Massachusetts.

To contact the reporter on this story: Barbara Powell in Dallas at bpowell4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

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