FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — One year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced Americans to hunker down and put a damper on holiday travel, more than 53 million Americans are expected to travel this holiday season.
Whether it’s by plane, train, or automobile, travelers can expect congested roadways, long wait times, or crowded airports.
Despite gas fuel prices spiking nationally at around $1.30 more than what we were paying this time last year, more than 48 million are expected to hit the road for a road trip to their holiday destination.
“Throughout the year with all of our holidays we have seen an increase in the amount of people desiring to travel for the various holidays and Thanksgiving is certainly no exception.,’ said Ragina Ali Public and Government Affairs Manager at AAA Mid-Atlantic. “When you look at the fact that most people who really could not spend time with their loved ones last year, or who didn’t feel comfortable doing so, this year they seemed to be making up for that.”
In the past month there has been a significant increase in gas prices. Ali told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee the prices may continue to climb during holiday season, because of the high demand.
But with gas prices slowly climbing, is it truly cheaper to drive instead of fly?
“For most people, it’s still certainly cheaper to drive, particularly if you are traveling as a family,” Ali said. “We’ve seen the largest increase over the year in people flying to their holiday destination. It’s about an 80% increase compared to last year. That being said, it’s still probably your cheapest bet, particularly if you are traveling with children or as a family, to drive as airfare is really expensive.”
The price of gas is no joke, though.
Ali added that the demand for gas paired with the price of crude oil, which has been treading around the $80 per barrel mark, is why gas prices are so high. The price of crude oil accounts for about 70% of the price of pay at the pump.
SIX THINGS HOLIDAY TRAVELERS NEED TO DO RIGHT NOW
Whether you are planning to drive or fly to your holiday destination, AAA encourages travelers to explore their options now, book travel and accommodations as soon as possible and work with a travel advisor who can help manage any challenges that may arise.
Six Things Holiday Travelers Need to Do Right Now
- Book your rental car – booking your rental car may be even more important than booking your flight because if you are unable to rent a vehicle to get to your holiday destination, you may need to rethink your plans altogether.
- Book your flight – the cost of travel is a matter of supply and demand. The ‘supply’, or the number of available flights, may be limited by the staffing shortages most major airlines are experiencing. Book your holiday travel as soon as possible to ensure availability and to get the best price.
- Book your hotel, inquire about COVID-related protocols – COVID-related restrictions and staffing shortages may impact availability of hotel rooms. Book your hotel room as soon as possible and also inquire about COVID-related protocols, food service availability and other amenities that may be limited.
- Work with a trusted travel advisor – A recent AAA survey indicates that more travelers are turning to travel advisors for their expert guidance and with good reason. Given the sometimes daily changes in COVID-related travel restrictions, the need to navigate vaccine requirements for some travel and the support advisors can provide in the event of changes, AAA encourages travelers to work with a trusted travel advisor to ensure the best travel experience.
- Consider trip insurance – In the wake of the pandemic, a recent AAA survey found that more people planning to get away are considering travel insurance. Policies vary dramatically but the right policy can provide much needed peace of mind.
- Book a Vehicle Checkup – While airports will be busy over Thanksgiving and the year-end holiday, most travelers will still be driving to their destinations and AAA will be busy providing Emergency Roadside Service to tens of thousands of Members forced to rethink their holiday plans because of a breakdown. Don’t wait. This is an extremely busy time of year at AAA Car Centers and AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities as vehicle owners ready their cars for winter. Make an appointment today for a bumper to bumper vehicle ‘check-up’ which may not be available if you wait until the last minute.
“Travelers should expect the unexpected. Now more than ever it is critical to plan ahead to ensure the best possible travel experience,” Ali said. “Flexibility will be key.”
AAA Car Care Insurance and Travel Centers are offering free bumper to bumper vehicle health checks as time and appointments allow. AAA is also offering a variety of discounts at its local Car Care Centers through the end of October.