Jane Van Ryan
Posted December 23, 2010
Americans will take to the roads in record numbers this holiday season. AAA projects that travel will rise by 3.1 percent to 92.3 million during the Dec. 23-Jan. 2 holiday period. Last year travel increased by 4.4 percent, making the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 holiday seasons the first back-to-back increases since 2005-2006 and 2006-2007.
AAA says 27 percent of the U.S. population, accounting for 85.7 million travelers, will be making round-trip journeys of 50 miles or more. Automobile travel will account for 93 percent of the trips.
Motorists will find higher gasoline prices at the pump this year, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), which projects average pump prices for regular gasoline to be about 38 cents a gallon higher than last year. As we've explained on this blog, gasoline prices fluctuate due to several factors, including the price of crude oil. Gasoline is refined from oil.
The New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) showed that the global price of crude oil climbed from $80.44 on Nov. 17 to $88.62 on Dec. 15, for an increase of 19 cents per gallon. As there are 42 gallons in a barrel, crude oil cost $2.11 per gallon on Dec. 15. From Nov. 29 to Dec. 15, the average pump price of gasoline increased by 13 cents per gallon - from $2.854 to $2.984, according to AAA.
This holiday season, about 2.75 million travelers plan to fly to their destinations. That is 2.8 percent higher than last year but well below the peak of 7.28 million in 2002-03.
AAA's travel survey also shows that travelers expect to spend about $694 on their holiday travel this year, and the average trip will be 1,052 miles. AAA says 67 percent of survey respondents said the economy hasn't affected their year-end travel plans.
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