Gas Prices, Economy Won't Keep Us from Traveling for the Holidays

Connecticut gas prices cheaper, but not cheap; third most expensive in U.S.

Nearly four million people from Connecticut and the five other New England states are traveling for the holidays. According to AAA’s year-end holiday travel forecast, 3.96 million New Englanders will journey at least 50 miles—a 1.4 percent increase over 2011, and the highest travel volume in six years.

Nationally, 93.3 million Americans will travel for the holidays—a 1.6 percent increase over 2011. The year-end holiday travel period is Saturday, Dec. 22 through Tuesday, Jan. 1 and is by far the longest holiday period of the year.

“Travelers will not let economic conditions or high gas prices dictate if they visit family and friends for the holidays or kick off the New Year with a vacation,” said Suzanne Aresco, manager of leisure travel product for AAA Allied Group. “The year-end holiday travel period has historically been the most stable of all travel holidays and we see no change this year.”

New England Highlights from AAA’s Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast

  • Auto Travel: Eighty-eight percent of New England travelers (3.5 million) will get to their destinations by car, a 1.2 percent increase over last year.
  • Air Travel: AAA expects 350,000 New Englanders to fly to their holiday destination, an increase of four percent from 2011.
  • Travel Spending: Median spending on travel among New Englanders is expected to be $859. Lodging will account for the largest share (24 percent) of spending.
  • Distance Traveled: The average distance traveled among those from New England will be 688 miles, compared to a national average of 760 miles.
  • Roadside Rescue Team: Among our Connecticut members who call for emergency road service during the holidays, we expect 46 percent to need a tow; 23 percent to need a jump start; and 13 percent to need a flat tire changed.

Gas Prices

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline today in Connecticut is $3.66 -- 14 cents more expensive compared to this time last year. However, the current statewide average is 50 cents below the late-summer high of $4.16. Recent declines are thanks to a number of factors including cheaper crude oil prices, lower demand, and economic concerns.  While gas prices remain above last year’s levels and at all-time highs for this time of year, they are not expected to have a major impact on travel decisions. Holiday travel at the end of the year remains less cyclical than other holiday periods.

Hotel, Air, and Car Rental Prices

Those traveling by air will find lower fares, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index.  For the year-end holiday period, the average lowest round-trip rate is $203 for the top 40 U.S. air routes, a three percent decrease from last year.  Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase two percent from a year ago, with travelers spending an average of $129 per night compared to $126 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay three percent more, at an average cost of $95 per night. Daily car rental rates will average $56, compared to $40 last year.

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