Holiday travel season could be busiest ever, AAA says

A record 99 million Americans will travel during the year-end holiday season, AAA says

Get ready for the holiday rush, it may be the busiest ever.

With Americans increasingly confident over their economic situation, nearly 99 million will travel at least 50 miles from home during the year-end holiday season, the Auto Club projected Tuesday. That’s 4% more than last year and the largest number on record, according to AAA data that starts in 2001.

Sharply lower gas prices are a big draw for the 91% of travelers who will hit the road from Dec. 23 to Jan. 4, the Auto Club said.

The national average price of a gallon of regular gasoline Tuesday was $2.526, AAA said. A year ago, Americans were paying $3.228 per gallon.

“Lower gas prices are filling stockings with a little more cash to spend on travel this year,” AAA President Marshall L. Doney said in a statement.

According to a survey from price-tracking website, 23% of travelers say low gas prices will affect their December trips. Some will travel longer distances, while others will splurge on gifts and accommodations.

An improving job market has boosted consumer confidence as well. The national economy this year is on pace to create the most new jobs since 1999.

Nearly 6 million Americans plan to fly over the year-end holidays, an increase of 1% over last year. An estimated 89.5 million will drive, an increase of 4.2% from 2013.

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