AAA: 2.6 million New Jerseyans to celebrate holidays away from home

Posted: December 31st, 1969

FLORHAM PARK, N.J., December 20, 2017 — AAA forecasts 107 million people, including 2.6 million in New Jersey, will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. This is the highest year-end travel volume on record and a 3.1 percent increase in travel volume compared with last year. 2017 marks the ninth consecutive year of rising year-end holiday travel. Since 2005, total year-end holiday travel volume has grown by 21.6 million, an increase of more than 25 percent. The year-end holiday period is defined as Saturday, December 23 through Monday, January 1.

“More expensive gas prices aren’t swaying holiday travelers,” said Cathleen Lewis, director of public affairs and government relations for AAA Northeast. “In fact, across the board, travel has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend and the same is projected for the year-end holiday period. The strong economy and growing consumer confidence has fueled holiday travel all year long.”

TRAVEL BY THE NUMBERS

Automobile

Driving remains the most popular mode of travel for the year-end holidays, both in New Jersey and nationally:

·         New Jersey – 2,398,964 (90.2% of all travelers), a 3.3% increase from 2016.

·         Nationally – 97.3 million (90.7% of all travelers), a 3% increase from last year.

Air

·         New Jersey – 177,145 (6.7% of all travelers), a 4.1% increase from last year.

·         Nationally – 6.36 million (5.9% of all travelers), a 4.1% increase from one year ago.

Train, Bus, Watercraft or Other Mode

·         New Jersey – 83,957 (3.1% of all travelers), a 1.5% increase from last year.

·         Nationally – 3.6 million (3.4% of all travelers), a 2.2% increase from 2016.

Holiday hotspots

For those traveling by car, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company – in collaboration with AAA – predicts travel times during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the normal trip. Based on historical and recent travel trends, INRIX expects drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion before the holiday week – on Wednesday, December 20 and Thursday, December 21 – in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.

“With record numbers of travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers should be prepared for delays in major metro areas,” said Dr. Graham Cookson, chief economist and head of research at INRIX. “Our advice to travelers is to avoid peak times altogether or consider alternative routes.”

Prices at pump expected to decrease

Holiday road-trippers will find the most expensive year-end gas prices since 2014. This December’s national average (December 1 – 20) is $2.56, which is 35 cents more than last December ($2.21). The good news is that AAA does expect the average to drop at least another five cents by year end, saving motorists a few pennies at the pump.

Today in New Jersey, drivers are paying an average of $2.49, 15 cents higher than the same day last year ($2.34).

Average gas prices in NJ over the year-end holidays for the past five years:

2016: $2.30

2015: $2.00

2014: $2.31

2013: $3.29

2012: $3.27

About the AAA 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 2017 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast is available here.