AAA Forecasts Second-Busiest Holiday Travel in Michigan Since 2000

The American Automobile Association (AAA) has released a statement forecasting that more than 3.6 million residents of Michigan will be traveling 50 miles or more from their homes during the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s holidays. This figure marks a 2.4% increase from the previous year, translating to approximately 102,000 additional travelers. The forecast places 2023 as the second busiest travel period since AAA began tracking in 2000, only behind 2019’s record.

Debbie Haas, AAA’s Vice President of Travel, commented, “AAA has seen steady year-over-year growth in travel demand, culminating with what is expected to be the second-busiest year-end holiday travel season on record in Michigan and nationwide.” Haas noted that despite inflationary pressures, Americans continue to allocate budgets for travel, predicting crowded roads, airports, and cruise lines. She advised travelers to finalize their plans promptly and anticipate longer waiting times.

Commercial air travel is also expected to rise, with forecasts indicating over 207,000 Michigan residents will fly, nearly 8,000 more than last year, and the third highest air travel volume on record. The peak years were 2002 and 2003, with 224,625 and 231,959 travelers, respectively. Additionally, AAA booking data reveals that average round-trip ticket prices to Orlando, Florida, are down to $613 from last year’s $735.

Haas recommended booking flights early for the best price and availability balance, warning that last-minute bookings might offer discounts but limited options. She emphasized the importance of travel insurance, especially considering potential winter weather disruptions.

The majority of Michigan residents, about 3.3 million, are expected to travel by car. AAA anticipates a slight increase in road travelers compared to the previous year. Interestingly, gas prices are expected to be similar or lower than last year’s holiday season, with a current 12-cent drop from the previous week. The average price for regular unleaded gas in Michigan is now $3.10 per gallon, 28 cents less than last month and 14 cents lower than in 2022.

AAA spokesperson Adrienne Woodland stated, “Michigan motorists are seeing slightly lower prices at the pump across the state.” She also mentioned the potential for further price drops if demand declines alongside lower crude oil prices.

Oil and refined products analyst Patrick De Haan confirmed the trend, noting that the country’s gasoline price has been declining for 12 consecutive weeks.

In Metro Detroit, the average daily gas price is $3.08 per gallon, slightly below the state average. AAA reports the highest gas prices in Marquette, Jackson, and Lansing/East Lansing, with the lowest in Traverse City, Benton Harbor, and Grand Rapids.

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