FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- With the price of gas plummeting, a healthier economy and reduced flight costs, Fairfield County residents will join millions of others this holiday season to make it the most traveled on record, according to AAA Southern New England.
A record 99 million Americans expect to travel more than 50 miles during the upcoming Christmas/New Year's holiday season, says Fran Mayko of AAA Southern New England.
In its annual national holiday travel survey, AAA predicts 98.6 million folks – a 4 percent increase compared with last year – will drive, fly or take some other mode of transportation to visit friends and relatives from Dec. 23 to Jan. 4.
The figures mark the highest forecast increase for the year-end holiday season since 2009, and the highest travel volume on record, Mayko said.
Of the 98.6 million travelers,
- 91 percent or 89.5 million travelers will celebrate the holidays with a road trip, a 4.2 increase;
- 6 percent or 5.7 million travelers – a 1 percent increase – will fly; and
- 3 percent or 4.8 million will take some other mode of transportation.
Nearly 4.2 million New Englanders will be among those traveling, reporting similar increases -- a 3.9 percent increase in total travel and a 4.2 percent increase in travel by car.
Lower gas prices; an improving economy; increased consumer confidence and a greater disposable income are all driving travel volume this year, Mayko said.
In addition, the calendar is helping. "This year, Christmas falls on a Thursday, creating a more flexible travel season that’s a day longer than last year and the longest since 2008," she said. "As a result, travelers have more options for departures and return trips."
National average gas prices are also helping. The national average price at the pump is at the lowest level in five years at $2.48 – 74 cents lower than this time last year. Gas prices have fallen for 73 days in a row.
In Connecticut, average prices as of Dec. 17 are $2.85, 82 cents lower than this time last year.
AAA Southern New England is a not-for-profit auto club with 51 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey providing more than 3.5 million local members with travel, insurance, finance and auto-related services.
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