AAA Texas: Record-Breaking 9.1 Million Texans to Celebrate Holidays Away From Home

Coppell, TX Travel, Gas Prices
Car packed
Photo copyright Jessica Spengler https://www.flickr.com/photos/wordridden/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

AAA Texas forecasts nearly 9.1 million Texans will travel to enjoy the holiday season with family and friends or simply to just get away. On a national scale, AAA forecasts that more than one-third of Americans will travel this holiday season. The record-breaking 112.5 million travelers taking to the nation’s runways, roads and rails for the year-end holidays represents a 4.4 percent increase over last year and the most since AAA has been tracking holiday travel. For the more than 102 million people who will pack up their cars for a holiday road trip, INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. could be as much as four times longer than a normal trip.

 

“More Texans than ever will travel at the end of the year to spend time with friends and family or choose to take a vacation,” said Daniel Armbruster, AAA Texas spokesperson. “The economy remains strong and consumers are confident in spending on seasonal travel. Of course, with so many Texans and Americans on the road and in the air, it is important to pack your patience as many airports and freeways will be crowded during peak travel times so you and your family can arrive safely.”

 

The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Saturday, December 22 through Tuesday, January 1, 2019. The 11-day span is one day longer than last year, due to Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Tuesdays this year.

 

By the Numbers: 2018 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast

Texas

 

 

Mode of travel

People

Change from 2017

Automobile

8.4 million

+4.4%

Air Travel

412,000

+1.9%

Other Travel (Trains, Buses)

251,000

+2.5%

Texas Total Travel Volume                  

9.1 million

+4.3%

     
     

National

 

 

Mode of travel

People

Change from 2017

Automobile

102.1 million

+4.4%

Air Travel

6.7 million

+4.2%

Other Travel (Trains, Buses)

3.7 million

+4.0%

National Total Travel Volume                  

112.5 million

+4.4%

 

 

  • Automobiles: More Americans will travel by car this holiday season than ever before. The 102.1 million people expected to pack up their cars for road trips is 4.4 percent higher than last year. It is the most since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2001.
  • Planes: The 6.7 million people who will travel by air this year is the highest level since in 15 years and is 4.2 percent more than last year.
  • Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 4 percent, with a total 3.7 million passengers.

 

Holiday Hotspots

Based on historical and recent travel trends, INRIX expects drivers to experience the greatest amount of congestion before the holiday week – starting on Wednesday, December 19 – as commuters and holiday travelers mix on our nation’s busiest roadways. Drivers in Atlanta, New York City, Boston and Houston will see travel times more than three times a normal trip.

 

“With a record-level number of travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in major metro areas – with Thursday, December 20 being the nation’s worst day to travel,” says Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Our advice is to avoid traveling during peak commuting hours. If schedules allow, leave bright and early, or after the morning commute.”

 

 

City

Worst Day to Travel

Worst Time for Travel

Delay Multiplier

Atlanta

Saturday, Dec. 22

3:00 - 4:00 PM

4x

New York City

Thursday, Dec. 20

9:30 - 10:30 PM

3.75x

Boston

Wednesday, Dec. 19

3:30 - 4:30 PM

3.5x

Houston

Wednesday, Dec. 19

12:15 - 1:15 PM

3.25x

Detroit

Monday, Dec. 24

2:00 - 3:00 PM

3x

Seattle

Wednesday, Dec. 19

4:00 - 6:00 PM

2.25x

Chicago

Monday, Dec. 24

1:30 - 2:30 PM

2.25x

Los Angeles

Thursday, Dec. 20

2:30 - 3:30 PM

2x

San Francisco

Friday, Dec. 21

4:15 - 5:15 PM

1.25x

Washington, DC

Thursday, Dec. 20

1:15 - 2:15 PM

2.75x

 

 

 

Source: INRIX

 

Falling Gas Prices Motivating More Holiday Travelers to Drive
While gas has been relatively expensive throughout this year, a recent drop to the cheapest national gas price averages of the year, combined with rising disposable income, is motivating more Americans to hit the road this holiday season. Nationally, gas prices averages are now at  $2.40 today, which is four cents less than a week ago and five cents less than a year ago.

 

Best Times to Fly and Book Christmas Flights

An analysis of AAA’s flight booking data from the last three years revealed that most holiday air travelers depart two or three days before Christmas and return the day after the holiday. This holiday season, Saturday, December 22, Sunday, December 23 and Wednesday, December 26 will be the busiest days in the skies and at the airports. Fewer holiday travelers choose to fly on Christmas Eve (Monday, December 24) and Christmas Day (Tuesday, December 25), which are the lightest travel days around the Christmas holiday.

 

Day

3-Year Average Ticket Price

Expected Crowds

Saturday (Dec. 22, 2018)

$590

Heavy

Sunday (Dec. 23, 2018)

$564

Heavy

Monday (Dec. 24, 2018)

$512

Light

Tuesday (Dec. 25, 2018)

$564

Light

Wednesday (Dec. 26, 2018)

$666

Heavy

 

Most travelers booked their Christmas flights between October 26 and November 27, paying an average ticket price of $561 roundtrip. Last-minute planners who book between December 12-18 this year can expect to pay the lowest average airfares, at $488. However, those travelers risk encountering limited availability and their preferred flights may already be sold out.

 

Car Rental Costs Reach 10-Year High, Hotel Prices Mixed

Holiday road trippers should budget slightly more for a rental car this year, as daily rates have increased 3 percent over last year. At $76, the daily average car rental rate this holiday season is the most expensive in 10 years. Travelers will also pay a bit more at AAA Two Diamond hotels, where prices are 1 percent more than last year, or $122 per night. Conversely, the average rate for AAA Three Diamond hotels has fallen 3 percent to an average nightly cost of $152.

 

Top 10 Year-End Travel Destinations

Warm-weather destinations are top draws in the winter months, occupying nine of the top 10 spots on the list of most popular holiday destinations, based on AAA’s online and travel agency air and tour bookings. The major cruise ports of Fort Lauderdale and Miami have both gained in popularity compared with last year, on the heels of a strong year for cruise sales. Meanwhile, New York City, the only cold-weather destination to make the top 10, can also expect a growing influx of travelers this holiday season.

 

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Cancun, Mexico
  3. Anaheim, California (Disneyland)
  4. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  5. Montego Bay, Jamaica
  6. Honolulu, Hawaii
  7. New York, New York
  8. Kahului, Hawaii (Maui)
  9. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  10. Miami, Florida

 

AAA to Rescue More Than 960,000 Motorists
AAA expects to rescue more than 960,000 motorists at the roadside this year-end holiday period. Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown. Members who require roadside assistance can call the toll free number (800-222-4357 or 800-AAA-Help), or contact AAA via www.AAA.com or the AAA mobile app.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 46 percent of all crashes involving bad weather take place in the winter. AAA encourages drivers to be vigilant when hitting the road this winter and to always stay prepared by carrying an emergency roadside kit containing a mobile phone and car charger, first-aid kit, blankets, drinking water and snacks, a flashlight with extra batteries, a basic toolkit, warning flares, an ice scraper, jumper cables and a shovel.

Download the AAA Mobile App Before the Holidays
Before heading out on a holiday road trip, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained inspectors to evaluate each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Inspected & Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

 

About the AAA Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast:

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2018 year-end holiday travel forecast is available here.

 

About AAA:

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 35 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting www.AAA.com. Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas. Find additional news from AAA Texas in our online newsroom at http://tx-aaa.iprsoftware.com/.

 

About INRIX:
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small. Learn more at INRIX.com.

Media Contacts

Daniel Armbruster
469-221-8217
armbruster.daniel@aaa-texas.com
Joshua Zuber
AAA Texas

713-533-2946
zuber.joshua@aaa-texas.com