Approximately 93.6 million travelers will be taking to the roads this holiday season, an additional 6 million will be flying, while nearly 3.5 million travelers will take a train or bus. These projections come despite an increase in gas prices over the past few months, following a November 30th OPEC agreement to cut oil production.
Higher prices don’t seem to deter road warriors across America, many of whom are weighing the surge against an otherwise healthy economy, allowing them more cash to use towards their travel experience.
The national average is hovering around $2.24, which is a 24 cent climb from last year’s flat $2.00 average during the holidays. The highest priced states are the same as always, with California, New York, Alaska, and Hawaii leading the way—versus most of the midwest and south which still carries the distinction of having the lowest prices.
Another not-so-surprising statistic is in regards to the type of destinations preferred by travelers. Per usual, warm locales rank high on the list; among them are San Diego, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Anaheim, California. The only cold weather tourist magnet is New York City, although it isn’t recommended that you go to Times Square to watch the ball drop (unless you’re okay with not using the restroom or sitting down for hours).
As far as airline travel is concerned, prices remain high, and will likely continue to rise with the price of oil. There are a few ways you can find cheaper fares, especially if you are flexible. Unfortunately, leaving anytime after December 20th and arriving anytime before January 4th will cost you a premium. Your best bet is to book between 50-100 days before your trip, and try booking on a Tuesday. Oddly enough, Tuesdays at 3 p.m. ET tend to provide the least expensive fare options. There’s no hard science behind it, it’s only based on research by a number of travel sites. Still, if it’s worked for some people it might work for you.
For those who are electing to drive this holiday season, don’t forget about the “safety first” mantra. If you saw footage of the 67-vehicle crash along Interstate 95 in Baltimore this past weekend, you know how harmful the icy conditions can be for any size vehicle.
Your best bet for this Christmas might just be a Skype call or Google Hangout with your family, rather than going to the effort to fly or drive to them. Just kidding of course.