AAA Hawaii: A Record One In Three Americans Will Travel This Holiday Season

Two Hawaii Locations Among Top Ten Destinations

Travel, Insurance & Consumer Tips
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AAA Hawaii forecasts that more than one-third of Americans will travel this holiday season. The record-breaking 112.5 million travelers for the year-end holidays represents a 4.4 percent increase over last year and the most since AAA has been tracking holiday travel.

 “Strong economic growth fueled by robust consumer spending continues to drive strong demand for seasonal travel,” said AAA Hawaii General Manager Liane Sumida. “With a record-breaking one-third of the country choosing to travel this holiday, roadways and airports are sure to be busy.”

The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Saturday, December 22 through Tuesday, January 1, 2019. The 11-day span is one day longer than last year, due to Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Tuesdays this year.

By the Numbers: 2018 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast

  • Automobiles: More Americans will travel by car this holiday season than ever before. The 102.1 million people expected to pack up their cars for road trips is 4.4 percent higher than last year. It is the most since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2001.
  • Planes: The 6.7 million people who will travel by air this year is the highest level since in 15 years and is 4.2 percent more than last year.
  • Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 4 percent, with a total 3.7 million passengers.

Falling Gas Prices Motivating More Holiday Travelers to Drive
While gas prices are still about 30 cents higher in Hawaii than at their lowest levels of 2018 in January, elsewhere in the U.S. they have fallen to the year’s lowest levels. The current U.S. gas price average is about $2.40 a gallon, while the statewide Hawaii average price is about $3.56 a gallon.

Top 10 Year-End Travel Destinations

Oahu and Maui will be among the 10 most visited destinations by U.S. travelers over the Christmas-New Year holiday period, according to data from AAA’s online and travel agency air and tour bookings. The top destinations are:

  1. Orlando, FL
  2. Cancun, Mexico
  3. Anaheim, CA (Disneyland)
  4. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  5. Montego Bay, Jamaica
  6. Honolulu, HI
  7. New York, NY
  8. Kahului, HI
  9. Fort Lauderdale, FL
  10. Miami, FL

Best Times to Fly and Book Christmas Flights

An analysis of AAA’s flight booking data from the last three years revealed that most holiday air travelers depart two or three days before Christmas and return the day after the holiday. This holiday season, Saturday, December 22, Sunday, December 23 and Wednesday, December 26 will be the busiest days in the skies and at the airports. Fewer holiday travelers choose to fly on Christmas Eve (Monday, December 24) and Christmas Day (Tuesday, December 25), which are the lightest travel days around the Christmas holiday.

Day

3-Year Average Ticket Price

Expected Crowds

Saturday (Dec. 22, 2018)

$590

Heavy

Sunday (Dec. 23, 2018)

$564

Heavy

Monday (Dec. 24, 2018)

$512

Light

Tuesday (Dec. 25, 2018)

$564

Light

Wednesday (Dec. 26, 2018)

$666

Heavy

Most travelers booked their Christmas flights between October 26 and November 27, paying an average ticket price of $561 roundtrip. Last-minute planners who book between December 12-18 this year can expect to pay the lowest average airfares, at $488. However, those travelers risk encountering limited availability and their preferred flights may already be sold out.

Car Rental Costs Reach 10-Year High, Hotel Prices Mixed

Holiday road trippers should budget slightly more for a rental car this year, as daily rates have increased 3 percent over last year. At $76, the daily average car rental rate this holiday season is the most expensive in 10 years. Travelers will also pay a bit more at AAA Two Diamond hotels, where prices are 1 percent more than last year, or $122 per night. Conversely, the average rate for AAA Three Diamond hotels has fallen 3 percent to an average nightly cost of $152.

About the AAA Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast:

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2018 year-end holiday travel forecast is available here.

 

Media Contacts

Marie Montgomery
714-885-2333