DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 15, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- An estimated 2.9 million Michigan residents – up from last year's projected 2.7 million -- will travel 50 miles or more from home during the upcoming Christmas holiday period, according to AAA's latest travel survey. Nationwide, AAA predicts 92.3 million Americans will travel, up 3.1 percent from a year ago. The year-end holidays travel period is defined as Thursday, December 23 to Sunday, January 2, 2011.
Most Michigan travelers will go by car, truck or van to their destinations this year (90 percent), while five percent will go by air. The rest will travel by bus or train. Michigan motorists can expect to pay about 49 cents more for a gallon of gas ($3.02 as of December 15), compared to last year.
"It's great to see so many Michiganians taking to the roads, rails and skies this holiday season," said AAA Michigan President Steve Wagner. "After a challenging year in 2009, a modestly improved economic environment and pent-up demand resulted in more of us traveling this year. The year-end holidays will continue this travel increase."
For the upcoming holiday travel period, Americans are expected to travel an average 1,052 miles roundtrip, up from last year's 791 miles. Median spending per household is expected to be $694, up from last year's $670. Most of those surveyed reported the main purpose of their upcoming trip was to visit with family or friends.
While many travelers indicate they will stay with family or friends, those planning to stay at hotels will find average prices up slightly from last year. According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings over the year-end holidays are expected to increase five percent from a year ago. Travelers will spend an average of $125 per night, compared to $119 last year.
Airfares are expected to be three percent less than last year, with an average lowest round-trip rate of $174 for the top 40 U.S. air routes. Weekend daily car rental rates will remain unchanged at an average $50.
AAA projections are based on research conducted by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2010-11 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast can be found at AAA.news.com.
During last year's Christmas holiday period, there were three traffic fatalities reported by the Michigan State Police. Of the three fatal crashes, one involved alcohol. Lack of restraint use was a factor in one of the crashes.
Last New Year's Eve, Michigan State Police reported one fatal crash with two fatalities. It involved alcohol and lack of restraint use. The crash was among six fatal crashes with seven fatalities during the New Year's holiday period. Alcohol was involved in three of the crashes.
AAA Michigan urges motorists to allow extra time, buckle safety belts, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol during the upcoming holiday period. If plans call for a holiday gathering, hosts should make sure guests do not drink and drive. Hosts should consider using some of the nonalcoholic drink recipes included in "AAA's Great Pretenders Party Guide." Visit AAA.com/Pretenders.
SOURCE AAA Michigan