Updated 12-21 7:22pm
June Massey is making the rounds this holiday season.
She and her husband drove from Atlanta, Georgia to visit family in Tennessee, made it to Crawfordville Friday, drove to Tallahassee after two nights, then, they're heading off to Virginia.
Massey said, "It's a lot of traveling. Remembering Christmases when we were kids with my siblings, it was always so special. We still get the feeling back again no matter what age. Then when you have grandchildren, they're irresistible. You just want to see the look on their faces when they see their Christmas tree and their presents; just to be with them. The holidays are all about the family."
The Masseys will have plenty of company on the road.
AAA says 4.5 million of the projected 4.8 million Florida residents that are taking trips during the holidays are traveling by automobile, which is a 3.2 percent increase from last year.
"We did notice more traffic on the road when we came down this time." Said, Massey.
AAA not only expects traveling to increase, but also projects median spending to go up 3.6 percent--from $670 per household in 2009 to $694 this year.
For some drivers, like Chris Nelson and his wife, that won't have to include lodging.
Nelson said, "We decided to come down to St. George Island. Her dad has a place down here. It's close to home. We had a good time."
Massey said, "Travel and transportation do cost. But, it's worth it."
AAA expects travel in Georgia to increase 3.2 percent during the holidays as well.
Similar to Florida, the auto club projects 2.5 million of the projected 2.7 million travelers doing so behind the wheel.
As of the afternoon of December 21st, the average price of gas in Florida showed $2.97, and $2.87 in Georgia.
AAA Press Release:
HOLIDAY TRAVEL IN FLORIDA EXPECTED TO INCREASE FOR SECOND YEAR IN ROW
TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 15, 2010) — Holiday travel in the state of Florida is projected to increase 3.1 percent this year from 2009, with more than 4.8 million Florida residents taking a trip of 50 miles or more away from home between Tuesday, Dec. 23 and Sunday, Jan. 2. Overall, travel in the U.S. is projected to increase 3.1 percent from last year, with more than 92.3 million projected travelers.
Holiday travel is mostly comprised of auto travelers, with the majority of Florida residents (4.5 million) traveling by automobile, an increase of 3.2 percent from last year. AAA expects the average price of regular retail gasoline in Florida to be between $2.95 and $3.05 per gallon during the holiday travel period, respectively. Air travel is expected to increase by 2.7 percent as well as travel by other modes, which is projected to increase by one percent in the state.
"This is the second year in a row we are seeing consistent increases in national holiday travel numbers,” said Brent Hubele, Vice President, AAA Travel. “This represents healthy growth following the relatively strong 4.4 percent increase in 2009 holiday travel and is a notable milestone in the travel industry’s recovery.”
Median household spending; total distance traveled projected to increase: Not only is travel projected to increase, but also median spending and total distance traveled. The total amount spent per household is projected to increase 3.6 percent, from $670 in 2009 to $694 this year. Total spending can be roughly grouped into two categories: transportation and spending that occurs at the travel destination that includes shopping, lodging, dining, and entertainment. Transportation spending accounts for roughly 29 cents of the traveler dollar, while other categories make up the remaining 71 cents.
Travelers intend to journey an average of 1,052 miles round-trip during the year-end holiday period, which is 261 miles greater than last year’s average of 791 miles. The increase is noteworthy since this year’s holiday period is one day shorter than last year’s period (11 days versus 12). However, the holiday travel period is longer than any other holiday throughout the year, so it is not surprising that travelers plan to go the furthest during the year-end holiday compared to others.
Airfares decrease, hotel rates increase, car rental rates remain unchanged from last year
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, the lowest round-trip airfares throughout the year-end holiday are expected to decrease three percent from last year with an average round-trip rate of $174 versus the $179 rate in 2009.
Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase five percent from a year ago, with travelers spending an average of $125 per night compared to $119 last year. Travelers who plan to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay two percent more as well, with an average cost of $88 per night. Daily car rental rates are expected to remain unchanged with an average rate of $50.
AAA's travel projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The report is comprised of two key components—the actual travel forecast and the holiday traveler profile. The actual forecast is based on economic conditions while the holiday travelers profile is developed employing survey data on travel behaviors. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2010 year-end holiday travel forecast can be viewed at AAA.com/news.
AAA Auto Club South is the third largest affiliate of AAA, with 79 branch offices serving more than 4.1 million members in Florida, Georgia, Middle/West Tennessee, and Puerto Rico. Since its founding in 1938, AAA Auto Club South has worked to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve travel safety.