Posts Tagged ‘Gasoline’

Heather HunterNearly 30 percent of Americans expected to take a trip this holiday season

ORLANDO, Fla., (Dec. 17, 2013)AAA projects 94.5 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, an increase of 0.6 percent from the 94 million people who traveled last year. This upward trend marks the fifth consecutive year of increases and the highest travel volume recorded for the season. The year-end holiday period is defined as Saturday, December 21 to Wednesday, January 1.

Highlights from this year’s 2013/2014 AAA Year-End Holidays Travel Forecast include:

  • Holiday travel to total 94.5 million, an increase of 0.6 percent from the 94 million who traveled last year.
  • Year-end holiday travel is expected to increase for the fifth consecutive year, reaching a new high since data has been collected by AAA.
  • Ninety-one percent of travelers or 85.8 million to travel by automobile, an increase of 0.9 percent.
  • Nearly 30 percent (29.7) of all Americans will take a trip this holiday, with more than one in four (27 percent) taking a road trip.
  • Holiday air travel is expected to decline slightly to 5.53 million travelers from 5.61 last year.
  • Median spending expected to increase slightly to $765, compared to $759 last year.

Additional Resources

“While economic growth has stagnated and consumer confidence has fallen Americans will not be Scrooges when it comes to traveling this year,” said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney. “AAA is projecting more Americans to travel than ever before to gather with friends and family, exchange presents and ring in the New Year.”

Only once in the past decade has there been a change in travel volume greater than five percent and that was a decline in 2007 as the recession was just getting started. “Of all the travel holidays, the year-end holiday season remains the least volatile as Americans will not let economic conditions dictate their travel plans to celebrate the holidays,” said Doney.

The overall economic picture remains in the stagnant state that has been present throughout the year. Following the October shutdown and the agreement to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling, the mood of the consumer remains cautious.  The unemployment rate has improved from one year ago, but overall employment levels remain low. Weak economic factors are reflected in all three major measures of consumer optimism which are now below year ago levels.

While key economic factors remain similar to the Thanksgiving period, the calendar is having a positive impact on travel. When the holiday falls on a Wednesday travelers have more flexibility with their travel plans and the option to start their trip earlier or extend through the following weekend. This calendar effect will help spur an increase in holiday travel this year.

With nine in ten holiday travelers driving to their destinations, AAA makes a timely appeal to everyone on the road to be extra diligent about the dangers of impaired driving particularly when holiday partygoers may risk getting behind the wheel after a festive evening.

According to the latest data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, one in five of all licensed drivers, that drink at least occasionally, reported having driven when they thought their alcohol level might have been close to, or possibly over, the legal limit in the past year.  The survey also reveals that 96 percent of drivers consider impaired driving to be unacceptable, with 50 percent reporting that drunk drivers are a bigger problem today versus three years ago.  “Despite the ubiquitous warnings about drinking and driving especially during the holiday season, alcohol-related crashes still represent one in three motor vehicle deaths,” said Doney.

AAA works year round to educate motorists about driving practices that will help keep them safe and reduce traffic-related crashes and the injuries that can result.  PreventDUI.AAA.com is an online resource offering impaired driving facts, transportation alternatives and expert advice.

AAA expects to rescue 3.76 million motorists during the holiday season

Between December 21 and January 1, AAA expects to come to the rescue of 3.76 million motorists with the primary reasons for breakdowns being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists check battery and tire condition and prepare vehicles for winter driving before heading out on a holiday getaway. Car care tips and information are available at AAA.com.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

Gas prices have climbed slightly from the multi-year low of $3.18 per gallon on November 12, but AAA expects most drivers will pay less than a year ago to fill up during the holiday season. Gas prices recently increased because of planned and unplanned maintenance at a number of refineries and seasonally stronger demand for gasoline. Prices should decline by the end of the year due to rising supplies and increased refinery production.

Automobile travel remains dominant mode of transportation, air travel decreases

Approximately 91 percent of travelers or 85.8 million people plan to travel by automobile during the year-end holidays. This is a 0.9 percent increase over the 85.1 million people who traveled by auto last year.  Air travel is expected to decrease 1.4 percent as 5.53 million holiday travelers will take to the skies.

Those traveling by air will find airfares slightly lower than last year according to AAA’s Leisure travel Index.  During Christmas week the average lowest round-trip rate is $199 for the top 40 U.S. air routes compared to $204 last year. Approximately 3.13 million travelers will choose other modes of transportation, including rail, bus and cruise ship.

Hotel rates relatively flat, car rental rates increase 13 percent

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to average $138 per night compared to $142 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay an average cost of $102 per night, compared to $101 in 2012.  Weekend daily car rental rates will average $63, compared to $55 last year.

Average travel distance increases

According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled is expected to be 805 miles, which is an increase of 45 miles from last year when travelers logged 760 miles.

Median spending increases slightly; visiting family, dining and shopping top activities

Median spending is expected to be $765 up from $759 last year. Visiting with friends and family (74 percent), Dining (70 percent) and shopping (51 percent) will be the most popular activities.

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones, available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, regions, like Wine Country, and National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance. Members using the iPad version can access interactive Top Destinations travel guides for popular cities. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight Year-End Holidays 2013/2014 Travel Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather Hunter

ORLANDO, Fla., (Nov. 20, 2013)AAA projects 43.4 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million people who traveled last year. This decrease falls just shy of last Thanksgiving’s four-year peak since the recession-driven declines in 2008-2009 when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 27 to Sunday, Dec. 1.

Highlights from this year’s 2013 AAA Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast include:

  • Thanksgiving travelers to total 43.4 million, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million who traveled last year
  • Ninety percent of travelers or 38.9 million to travel by automobile, a decline of 1.6 percent
  • Median spending expected to drop nearly seven percent to $465, compared to $498 last year.
  • The Thanksgiving holiday is a less expensive holiday for travelers compared to other holidays. This year Labor Day spending was expected to be $804, Independence Day $749 and Memorial Day $659.
  • Holiday air travel to decline 3.7 percent to 3.14 million travelers from 3.26 million in 2012
  • Average distance traveled to increase to 601 miles from 588 miles.
  • The Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be the busiest single day of travel with 37 percent of travelers departing for trips Nov. 27.

Additional Resources

“While the economy continues to improve, the sluggish pace of the recovery is creating uncertainty in the minds of some consumers and therefore AAA is projecting a slight decline in the number of Thanksgiving travelers this year,” said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney.  “For those traveling the good news is motorists will receive a holiday bonus in the form of lower gas prices which are at their lowest levels for the holiday since 2010.”

“The primary focus of Thanksgiving, more so than any other holiday, is to gather with friends, family and loved ones and celebrate with each other. Travelers attempting to carve out a travel budget will be happy to know that Thanksgiving will be the least expensive holiday of the year,” continued Doney.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

AAA estimates that most drivers will pay the cheapest gas prices for the Thanksgiving holiday since 2010. The national average is at the cheapest level of the year and should continue to drop in the weeks ahead. Drivers can find stations selling gas for less than $3.00 per gallon in the vast majority of states. The decreased cost of gas will provide consumers with real savings that could be used for other purposes on the trip.

Wednesday before the holiday will be busiest travel day

The Thanksgiving holiday is unique falling on a Thursday every year. Many people are off from work the Friday after; giving travelers more time to spend with family and friends.   AAA asked intended travelers which days they would depart for and return from Thanksgiving travel. Among those surveyed, the highest volumes of travelers plan to leave for their trip the Wednesday before the holiday (37 percent) and return the following Sunday (33 percent) with another 24 percent expecting to return on Monday, Dec 2 or later.

Automobile travel remains dominant mode of transportation, air travel decreases

Approximately 90 percent of travelers or 38.9 million people plan to travel by automobile this Thanksgiving. This is a 1.6 percent decrease over the 39.5 million people who traveled by auto last year.  Air travel is expected to decrease 3.7 percent as 3.14 million holiday travelers will take to the skies.

Those traveling by air will find airfares comparable to last year according to AAA’s Leisure travel Index.  For the Thanksgiving holiday the average lowest round-trip rate is $187 for the top 40 U.S. air routes compared to $188 last year. Approximately 1.4 million travelers will choose other modes of transportation, including rail, bus and cruise ship.

Hotel rates relatively flat, car rental rates increase six percent

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, Thanksgiving holiday hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to average $142 per night compared to $143 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay an average cost of $105 per night, compared to $104 in 2012.  Weekend daily car rental rates will average $50, compared to $47 last year.

Average travel distance increases

According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is expected to be 601 miles, which is an increase of 2.2 percent from last year when travelers planned to log 588 miles.

Median spending down almost seven percent; visiting family, dining and shopping top activities

Median spending is expected to be $465, a 6.6 percent decrease compared to the expected median spending of intended holiday travelers ($498) in 2012.

While spending time with friends and relatives and dining are primary activities for nearly all holidays, it is even more relevant for Thanksgiving travelers. Therefore it is not surprising that spending time with family and friends (67 percent) and dining (56 percent) are the most popular activities planned by travelers. Despite lower median spending, nearly half of all travelers (44 percent) plan to shop during the holiday which can be expected given Black Friday occurs during the holiday weekend.

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones, available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, regions, like Wine Country, and National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance. Members using the iPad version can access interactive Top Destinations travel guides for popular cities. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight Labor Day 2013 Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather Hunter

2013 AAA THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY TRAVEL FORECAST

NEWS CONFERENCE NOVEMBER 20, 2013

WHAT:AAA will release its annual Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast during a news conference at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013.

  • How will the current state of the economy affect travel during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend?
  • How many people will travel and what mode of transportation will they use?
  • What will be the busiest days in the air and on the roadways?
  • Will fuel prices have an impact on Americans traveling during the holiday?
  • Are costs for hotel rooms, rental cars and airline tickets up or down?
  • How much will travelers spend and how far will they travel?
WHO:Marshall L. Doney, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, AAA
WHEN:Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 10:00 a.m. EST
WHERE:Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Upper Concourse, Door 6, at north end of Terminal C

(Adjacent to the glass wall where the media outlets are located)

Please contact the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Public Affairs Office at (703) 417-8370 to make arrangements for parking live media trucks. All other vehicles must park in the garages or economy lot.

 

What is Vehicle-to-Vehicle Technology?

June 10th, 2013 by admin

Now in development, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication systems use a GPS receiver, a radio/antenna and a computer to share automobile location and movement information with other V2V-equipped vehicles up to a quarter mile away. That information is then analyzed and used to alert the driver to potentially hazardous situations. Warnings can be provided in a variety of ways, including sounds, visual icons, control feedback and seat vibrations.

More advanced systems may also employ vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications that allow the car to receive driving condition information from traffic lights, road signs or even the highway itself. Common notifications might include traffic congestion, speed limits, or height restrictions on bridges and tunnels. The combination of V2V and V2XI technology is often referred to as V2X.

When V2X capabilities are integrated with advanced driver assistance systems, the vehicle could take control of the brakes and/or steering to avoid a collision if a driver fails to react in time. Unexpected emergency situations combined with ineffective driver reactions result in millions of crashes every year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration projects that V2X systems could help prevent up to 81 percent of collisions involving drivers not impaired by drugs or alcohol. As V2X-equipped vehicles begin to appear on our roadways, shared information could also be used to smooth traffic flow, reduce congestion, improve fuel economy and cut emissions.

Automakers, technology providers, research institutes and governmental agencies are all engaged in developing V2V and V2I technology. The Department of Transportation is expected to decide some time in 2013 whether V2X systems should be among the safety features built into our vehicles. Given its potential benefits, there is a good possibility your next new car will employ V2X communications to help you be a better driver.

Gasoline or Compressed Natural Gas?

June 10th, 2013 by admin

Consumers face competing priorities in making automotive decisions. They want to save money on fuel, and they appreciate protecting the environment by reducing greenhouse gases, but their primary concerns are most often cost and convenience. An example is the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) as an automotive fuel, which offers both advantages and challenges.

An August 2012 AAA study found 39 percent of AAA members were interested in vehicles that used two or more fuel sources, such as gasoline-electric hybrids or “bi-fuel” vehicles such as those that can run on either gasoline or CNG. However, trade-offs that include higher vehicle prices and limited refueling options are holding them back.

“Consumers want to make the right decision for the environment, but they also need that decision to be economically sound,” says AAA’s Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair John Nielson. “Vehicles powered by alternative fuels such as CNG have the potential to meet those requirements, but the extent of the benefits varies with the vehicle and how it is used.”

CNG is up to 40 percent less expensive than gasoline for the equivalent amount of energy. On the other hand, converting a vehicle to run on CNG can cost $10,000 or more, an expense that can take years to recover in fuel savings. CNG fueling stations are also rare in most areas and unavailable in others. The Department of Energy says there are just 578 public CNG fueling stations in the U.S.

Most CNG vehicles on the road today are large trucks that get relatively poor fuel economy and travel tens of thousands of miles per year. Under these conditions, the time needed to recover the higher price of a CNG vehicle can be as little as two years, with ongoing fuel cost savings thereafter. As a result, most current CNG vehicles operate in commercial service, and large fleets often install a private CNG fueling station to meet their vehicle fueling needs.

The only CNG vehicle currently targeted at the average motorists is the Honda Civic Natural Gas – a dedicated CNG vehicle with no provision to use gasoline as a backup. With a list price of $26,465, the Natural Gas costs $5650 more than a comparable gasoline-powered Civic. In addition, the lower energy content of CNG combined with limited storage tank space gives the Civic Natural Gas a driving range of just 190 miles versus nearly 400 miles for a gasoline Civic.

“CNG vehicles can make sense and save money in some commercial applications,” says Nielsen. “However, for the average consumer, the added cost and greater inconvenience of using CNG to power a passenger car doesn’t pencil out right now – although that could change in the future.”

Every spring gas prices seem to skyrocket to the highest prices of the year. Why does this happen? In explanation, we hear the experts say that many of the refineries are “down for maintenance while transitioning from winter-blend to summer-blend gasoline,” but what does this mean?

The difference between summer- and winter-blend gasoline involves the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) of the fuel. RVP is a measure of how easily the fuel evaporates at a given temperature. The more volatile a gasoline (higher RVP), the easier it evaporates.

Winter-blend fuel has a higher RVP because the fuel must be able to evaporate at low temperatures for the engine to operate properly, especially when the engine is cold. If the RVP is too low on a frigid day, the vehicle will be hard to start and once started, will run rough.

Summer-blend gasoline has a lower RVP to prevent excessive evaporation when outside temperatures rise. Reducing the volatility of summer gas decreases emissions that can contribute to unhealthy ozone and smog levels. A lower RVP also helps prevent drivability problems such as vapor lock on hot days, especially in older vehicles.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says conventional summer-blend gasoline contains 1.7 percent more energy than winter-blend gas, which is one reason why gas mileage is slightly better in the summer. However, the summer-blend is also more expensive to produce, and that cost is passed on to the motorist.

The switch between the two fuels happens twice a year, once in the fall (to winter-blend) and again in the spring (to summer-blend). The changeover requires significant work at refineries, so oil companies schedule their maintenance for those times when they will already be “down” for the blend switches.

As a consumer, the main thing to understand is that there are real reasons for the switch from winter- to summer-blend fuel, even if it results in some pain at the pump.

AAA Predicts Gasoline to Cost Less in 2013

January 8th, 2013 by admin

National Average Expected to Peak at $3.60-$3.80 Per Gallon This Year 

WASHINGTON, D.C., (January 8, 2013) – Gasoline prices this year will be less expensive than in 2012 as a result of increased domestic oil production and lower demand, according to AAA. The national average price of gasoline should peak at $3.60-$3.80 per gallon barring any significant unanticipated events, which compares to a peak of $3.94 a gallon in 2012.

“Cheaper gas prices are good news for the millions of Americans that depend on their car to travel where they need to go,” said AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet. “Lower gasoline prices should translate into billions of dollars in tangible household savings given that the vast majority of Americans rely on automobiles to live their lives.”

Gasoline prices should rise steadily through April or early May, but at a slower pace than last year. As is typical for this time of year, prices will rise as a result of seasonal demand increases and in anticipation of the switchover to more expensive summer-blend gasoline. Following a late-spring peak, prices should drop during the first half of the summer to as low as $3.20-$3.40 per gallon before rising again in advance of the Gulf Coast hurricane season and the switchover to winter-blend gasoline. Prices should end the year by falling to low or near-low averages for 2013.

“Absent significant storms, majors wars or production and distribution outages, the single largest factor that will influence gasoline prices in 2013 will be the strength of the U.S. economy,” continued Darbelnet. “Stronger than expected growth in the economy would result in higher oil and gasoline prices in anticipation of higher consumption, while a weaker than expected economy would drive prices downwards. Inaction by Congress to reach a debt deal in two months also would result in increased concern about the U.S. economy and could lead to lower gasoline prices.”

Today’s national average price of gasoline is $3.30 per gallon, which is seven cents less than last year and five cents less than a month ago. Motorists in 39 states today are paying lower average gasoline prices than a year ago. States paying more than last year are located primarily in the Northeast, which is still dealing with the supply aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy. The average price of gasoline today is below $3.00 per gallon in six states including Colo., Idaho, Minn., Okla., Utah and Wyo.. The only state paying more than $4.00 per gallon is Hawaii.

The annual average price of gasoline in 2012 was the most expensive on record at $3.60 per gallon, but the situation for motorists is already improving. On Jan. 5, the national daily average dropped below the year-ago price for the first time since August 20, which means motorists are now paying less for gasoline than last year – a trend that AAA believes is likely to continue.

Gasoline prices in 2012 reached record highs partly as a result of unanticipated production disruptions from refinery fires, pipeline closures and major hurricanes. Oil prices also were higher as a result of tensions in the Middle East including new sanctions on Iran. These types of market-moving events are impossible to predict and any forecast on gasoline prices can change as a result of similar factors.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

With 93.3 million Americans expected to take a trip this holiday season, holiday travel to increase by 1.6 percent

ORLANDO, Fla., (Dec. 13, 2012)AAA projects 93.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holidays, an increase of 1.6 percent over the 91.8 million people who traveled last year. This increase brings holiday travel figures to within half a million of the decade high mark seen during the 2006/2007 season. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Saturday, Dec. 22 to Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.

Highlights from AAA 2012/13 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast include:

  • Year-end holiday travelers to total 93.3 million, an increase of 1.6 percent from the 91.8 million that traveled last year
  • Ninety percent of travelers (84.4 million) to travel by automobile, representing 26.7 percent of the total U.S. population
  • Holiday air travel expected to increase 4.5 percent to 5.6 million travelers from 5.4 million in 2011
  • Median spending expected to increase almost six percent to $759, compared to $718 in 2011 with transportation costs consuming about 29 cents of every travel dollar.
  • Average distance traveled to increase to 760 miles round-trip from 726 miles, an expected result with an increase in air travelers
  • Travel volumes for the year-end holidays are generally very stable, only once in the past decade has there been a change in travel volume greater than five percent

Additional Resources

“The year-end holiday season remains the least volatile of all travel holidays as Americans will not let economic conditions or high gas prices dictate if they go home for the holidays or kick off the New Year with a vacation,” said AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet. “Primary economic indicators all show modest improvement from last year and AAA is projecting an increase in the number of Americans stuffing their stockings with airline tickets and hotel reservations.”

“As we enter the New Year, one unknown for travel is the looming ‘fiscal cliff’ and the resulting uncertainty related to near-term tax and benefit changes.  Having these items unresolved complicates many travelers’ ability to develop an accurate household budget as they plan for future spending and saving decisions.  It is important that Congress and the President work together to quickly resolve the situation for the good of the nation,” said Darbelnet.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

AAA estimates the national average price of gasoline will slowly drop through the end of the year and average between $3.20-3.40 a gallon by New Year’s Day. Gas prices dropped about 50 cents a gallon on average from September through early December, but remain at record highs for this time of year. AAA does not expect gas prices to have a major impact on travel volume, but consumers could have more money to spend on holiday shopping, dining and entertainment if prices drop through December as expected.

Automobile travel remains dominant mode of transportation, air travel increases

Approximately 90 percent of travelers (84.4 million) plan to travel by automobile this holiday season. This is a 1.3 percent increase over the 83.3 million people who traveled by auto last year.  Air travel is expected to increase 4.5 percent as six percent of travelers or 5.6 million will take to the skies.

Those traveling by air will find lower airfares 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. Approximately 3.3 million travelers will choose other modes of transportation, including rail, bus and cruise ship.

Hotel rates to increase slightly, car rental rates increase 41 percent

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, year-end holiday 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.

Average travel distance increases

According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during holiday period is expected to be 760 miles, further than last year when travelers planned to log 726 miles.

Median spending up nearly six percent; top activities are dining and spending time with loved ones

Median spending is expected to be $759, a six percent increase compared to the expected median spending of intended holiday travelers ($718) last year.

Dining (67 percent) and spending time with family and friends (66 percent) and are the most popular activities planned by travelers. It is not surprising that during holiday season shopping is the third most popular activity with 57 percent expecting to shop. More than one-third (34 percent) of holiday travelers plan to sightsee during their trips.

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for 101 top North American destinations, available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, regions, like Wine Country, and National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, Android and iPad uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn about the AAA Mobile app and AAA Mobile Web at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight 2012/13 Year-end Holiday Travel Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Holiday travel continues steady climb from 2008 level with 43.6 million Americans expected to take Thanksgiving trips

ORLANDO, Fla., (Nov. 13, 2012)AAA projects 43.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, an increase of 0.7 percent over the 43.3 million people who traveled last year. This increase marks the fourth consecutive year of growing holiday travelers since 2008 when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 21 to Sunday, Nov. 25.

Highlights from this year’s 2012 AAA Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast include:

  • Thanksgiving travelers to total 43.6 million, an increase of 0.7 percent from the 43.3 million who traveled last year
  • Ninety percent of travelers or 39.1 million to travel by automobile, an increase of 0.6 percent
  • Holiday air travel to decline to 3.14 million travelers from 3.2 million in 2011
  • Median spending expected to drop 10 percent to $498, compared to $554 last year. Spending remains consistent with historic averages as Americans continue to prioritize travel while finding ways to economize
  • Average distance traveled to decline to 588 miles from 706 miles, due in part to a decrease in the number of air travelers and Americans desire to economize budgets
  • Despite mild improvements in unemployment, the housing market and greater consumer optimism, the economy is still struggling to keep its head above water

Additional Resources

“Thanksgiving travel hit a decade low in 2008 when only 37.8 million Americans traveled,” said AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet. “Since that year we have seen a steady increase in the number of travelers taking to the roads and skies for the holiday. Americans continue to find ways to economize their budgets so they can gather around the holiday table to carve the turkey.”

“While we do not yet know the full impact that Hurricane Sandy will have on travel from the Mid-Atlantic region, we do know that the impact for many Americans in that region is substantial,” continued Darbelnet.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

AAA estimates the national average price of gasoline will drop to between $3.25-3.40 a gallon by the holiday, similar to last year’s average of $3.32, which was the most expensive average ever on Thanksgiving. Despite the historically high prices paid by motorists this year, the national average has declined by nearly 40 cents a gallon since early October and should continue to drop through the end of the year. The national average price of gas for Thanksgiving from 2007-2011 is $2.75 a gallon.

Wednesday before the holiday is expected to be busiest travel day

The Thanksgiving holiday is unique falling on a Thursday every year. Many people are off from work the Friday after, giving travelers the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends.   AAA asked intended travelers which days they would depart for and return from Thanksgiving Travel. Among those surveyed, the majority of travelers plan to leave the Wednesday before the holiday (45 percent) and return the following Sunday (36 percent) with another 25 percent expecting to return on Monday, Nov. 26.

Automobile travel remains dominant mode of transportation, air travel decreases

Approximately 90 percent of travelers or 39.1 million people plan to travel by automobile this Thanksgiving. This is a 0.6 percent increase over the 38.9 million people who traveled by auto last year.  Air travel is expected to decrease 1.7 percent as 3.14 million holiday travelers will take to the skies.

Those traveling by air will find lower airfares according to AAA’s Leisure travel Index.  For the Thanksgiving holiday the average lowest round-trip rate is $188 for the top 40 U.S. air routes, an 11 percent decrease from last year. Approximately 1.3 million travelers will choose other modes of transportation, including rail, bus and cruise ship.

Hotel rates relatively flat, car rental rates increase 27 percent

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, Thanksgiving holiday hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to decrease one percent from a year ago, with travelers spending an average of $143 per night compared to $145 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay one percent more, at an average cost of $104 per night.  Weekend daily car rental rates will average $47, compared to $37 last year.

Average travel distance decreases

According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is expected to be 588 miles, which is a decline of 16.7 percent from last year when travelers planned to log 706 miles.

Median spending down ten percent; visiting family, dining and shopping top activities

Median spending is expected to be $498, a 10 percent decrease compared to the expected median spending of intended holiday travelers ($554) in 2011.

While spending time with friends and relatives and dining are primary activities for nearly all holidays, it is even more relevant for Thanksgiving travelers. Therefore it is not surprising that spending time with family and friends (75 percent) and dining (56 percent) are the most popular activities planned by travelers. Despite lower median spending, half of all travelers (50 percent) plan to shop during the holiday which can be expected given Black Friday occurs during the holiday weekend.

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for 101 top North American destinations, free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from city titles, like Orlando, New York and the award-winning Las Vegas, as well as National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone and Android devices uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and nearby member discounts and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn about the AAA Mobile app and AAA Mobile Web at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight 2012 Thanksgiving  Holiday Travel Forecast can be found in the additional resources box.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

AAA President & CEO Robert L. Darbelnet Announces 2012 Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast

(Click Images to Enlarge)

Growing global economy is expected to demand more crude oil

WASHINGTON, Jan. 3, 2012 — On the first trading day of 2012, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil rose $4.13 to settle at $102.96 at the close of formal trading on the NYMEX — the highest settlement price since May 10of last year. Today’s price increase was attributed to positive reports on the U.S. and Chinese economies and continued supply concerns surrounding increasing tension between Iran and the U.S. in the Persian Gulf. A growing global economy is expected to demand more crude oil, which pressures prices higher, as does the possibility of future disruptions to global supply.

In response to the ongoing development of Iran’s nuclear program in 2011, the U.S. and European Union (EU) announced economic sanctions against Iran. Under these initial sanctions, the Iranian currency (the rial) declined steeply placing designed economic pressure on the Iranian government.  As the U.S. and EU publically considered enacting further sanctions, Iran began conducting military exercises last month in the Strait of Hormuz, raising the intended specter of possible supply disruptions.  About one-third of all global seaborne oil passes through the narrow channel of water which sits between Iran and Oman.  Tensions have continued to rise as President Obama on Saturday signed a new round of sanctions into law, European leaders announced that they will consider a full embargo of Iranian oil later this month, and Iran yesterday continued a week of missile tests designed to demonstrate its defensive capabilities — the same day that the rial lost 10 percent of its value and Iran’s central bank called an emergency meeting to discuss the tumbling currency.  While most analysts have classified the action to date as “saber-rattling” and there has not been a disruption to Middle Eastern oil production or distribution, the possibility of a future impact to global supply has kept upward pressure on oil prices and will bear close attention in coming weeks.

2011 enters the books as a year of oil supply concerns in the Middle East and Northern Africa, an unprecedented price spread between WTI and Brent crude, bearish global economic news, and subsequent U.S. gasoline demand destruction.  Escalation of violence in Libya in February saw crude prices surge higher, with a peak WTI price of $113.93 on April 29 and a peak national retail average gas price of $3.98 on May 5.  During this time, the price difference or “spread” between the U.S. crude benchmark (WTI) and the European benchmark (Brent) widened to a record level as WTI products became backlogged at their delivery point in Cushing, OK, and became relatively insulated from the upward price pressure seen on other crude products on the global market.  The price spread peaked at nearly $30 to begin September but has closed to less than $10 as the WTI backlog has been alleviated.  Prior to 2011, a spread of even a few dollars would have been considered significant.  At the same time, high crude oil and gasoline prices, along with bearish signs for a struggling global economy and sovereign debt concerns, have weighed on markets.  Last Thursday’s Department of Energy report showed U.S. October gasoline demand at 8.623 million barrels per day — the lowest October number since 2000 and a more than four percent decline from the same month in 2010.  WTI crude oil began 2011 at $91.55 per barrel and ended the year at $98.83.  The national average gas price began 2011 at $3.07 per gallon and ended the year at $3.28.

On an annual average basis, U.S. motorists paid the all-time highest price for gasoline in 2011, surpassing the former all-time record set in 2008.

National Annual Average Price for Regular Gasoline

2001 – $1.44

2002 – $1.35

2003 – $1.56

2004 – $1.84

2005 – $2.27

2006 – $2.57

2007 – $2.79

2008 – $3.25

2009 – $2.34

2010 – $2.78

2011 – $3.51

The all-time highest recorded daily national average price of $4.11 occurred on July 17, 2008. However, the daily national average price declined to less than $2 per gallon by November 21 of that year and retreated to $1.62 per gallon by late-December as the U.S and global economies were mired in the worst recession since the 1930s. While the daily national average price reached its all-time high in July 2008, the price declined significantly — by almost $2.50 per gallon — by the end of the year.

As crude oil prices today rose to their highest level in months, the price of gasoline remains near the multi-month low of $3.21 registered on December 21. The current national retail average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline is $3.28. Today’s price is a nickel more expensive than one week ago, fractions of a penny more expensive than one month ago and 21 cents more expensive than one year ago.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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