More than 103 million Americans — the most on record — are expected to travel for the year-end holidays, according to AAA. This represents a 1.5 percent increase, or 1.5 million more people traveling, compared with last year. This comes despite one fewer travel day this holiday season. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Friday to Monday, Jan. 2, 2017.
Some of those travelers will spend Christmas weekend staying at The Lodge and in the cabins at Mount Magazine State Park.
“Right now we’re 90 percent full for Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” said park Superintendent Becky Bariola. “We’ll be full for the weekend. We always are at Christmas. We’ve had a very good year.”
Christmas is Sunday, Dec. 25.
Bariola also said she expects the lodge and cabins to be fully booked for the New Year’s weekend next week.
The Skycrest Restaurant, located in the lodge, is hosting a traditional Christmas buffet lunch Sunday from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m.
The increase in holiday travel this year is being driven by additional consumer spending, a result of improvements in the labor market and rising wages. Additionally, low gas prices and increased consumer optimism will prompt more Americans than ever to set out on road trips, take to the skies, or board trains, buses and cruise ships to celebrate the holidays.
“’Tis the season for holiday travel, and this year more Americans will travel to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year than ever before,” said AAA President and CEO Marshall Doney. “Rising incomes and continued low gas prices should make for a joyous holiday travel season.”
The vast majority of travelers — 93.6 million people — will take a holiday road trip, an increase of 1.5 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase by 2.5 percent, with more than 6 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will decrease slightly, to 3.5 million travelers.
New Year’s gas prices second-cheapest in nearly a decade AAA estimates U.S. drivers have saved more than $27 billion at the gas pumps so far this year compared to the same period last year. Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.23, 23 cents more than the average price on New Year’s Day 2016 ($2). Most U.S. drivers will pay the second-cheapest New Year’s Day gas prices since 2009, when the national average was $1.62.