AAA: Holiday travel expectations are up in NJ
If you are planning to hit the road during the holiday travel season, which kicks off on Dec. 23, you will not be alone.
AAA Mid-Atlantic is projecting that more than 2.4 million New Jersey residents will travel 50 miles or more from home for Christmas and New Year's, an increase of 4.4 percent over last year.
Nationwide, 98.6 million Americans will do the same, which is an increase of 4 percent from the 94.8 million people who traveled in 2013.
The increase marks the highest forecast growth rate for the year-end holiday season since 2009, and the highest travel volume for the holiday period on record since AAA started collecting data in 2001.
"Gas prices have dropped significantly since this time last year," said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "Prices are at least 84 cents less than they were during this same period in 2013. Because of that added savings, people are taking to the roadways, making travel plans and people are going to have extra stocking stuffers this year."
Currently, the average price for a gallon of gas in New Jersey is $2.45.
Ninety percent of all New Jerseyans will travel by car, up 4.7 percent from 2013. Air travel is also projected to increase by 1.2 percent, with 156,747 people in New Jersey expected to fly.
Another factor for the increase in travel, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic, is the calendar. This year the holidays land on a Thursday, creating a holiday travel season that is one day longer than last year's and the longest since 2008. This year's calendar offers travelers more options for departures and return trips, making it possible for many to fit travel into their schedules.
With so many motorists expected to hit the road, AAA expects to be busy.
Across the country, AAA expects to come to the rescue of 1.1 million motorists as a result of dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. The Mid-Atlantic region expects to rescue more than 74,000 motorists with 19,500 in New Jersey. If you are going on a road trip, AAA recommends you check your battery and tire condition and prepare your vehicle for winter driving.
The holiday period is defined as Tuesday, Dec. 23 through Sunday, Jan. 4.