A record number of people nationwide plan to travel at least 50 miles for Christmas and New Year’s, with the vast majority hitting the road by car, according to AAA.
In its holiday travel forecast released Tuesday, AAA estimates 100.5 million Americans — or one in three — will travel between Dec. 23 and Jan. 6.
That’s a record number and a 1.4 percent increase over last year, making this the seventh straight year in which year-end holiday travel has increased.
Travel increases in New England are on track to outpace national growth, according to AAA, which estimates more than 4.3 million people in the region will travel, up 2.2 percent from last year. Most of them, 3.8 million, plan to drive to their destination, up 2.4 percent from last year.
Drivers in Connecticut and beyond will notice lower prices at the pumps compared with last year as well. Nationwide, drivers paid an average of $2.01 a gallon for regular gas Tuesday, according to AAA’s daily Fuel Gauge report, down from $2.17 a month ago and $2.55 a year ago.
AAA predicts the national average price for gas will fall below $2 a gallon by Christmas, and that most drivers in the United States will pay the lowest New Year’s Day prices since 2009.
In Connecticut, drivers paid an average of $2.20 a gallon for regular gas Tuesday, down from $2.29 a month ago and $2.91 a year ago. The most expensive gas in the state was in the Bridgeport area, where drivers paid $2.28 a gallon on average, compared with $2.21 in New London, $2.20 in the New Haven-Meriden area and $2.17 in Hartford.
In addition to more than 90 million people who will be driving, AAA estimates about 5.7 million people will fly to their holiday destinations while 3.4 million will use other transportation modes.
Travelers going by train or bus should double-check their itineraries, as providers will be altering their regular schedules.
Metro-North, for instance, will operate under a holiday schedule from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1. During its peak travel time, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., it will run longer and extra trains on all lines, according to railroad officials.
Peter Pan Bus Lines, which operates several stops statewide, has cancelled various routes on Dec. 25 and 26 as well as Jan. 1 and 2, so company officials are urging customers to plan ahead.
AAA typically releases travel projects ahead of all major holidays. The numbers released Tuesday are based on economic forecasting and research by Colorado-based IHS Global Insight, which has been working with AAA since 2009 to analyze holiday travel trends. AAA itself has been reporting on holiday travel for more than two decades.
Consumers will notice cheaper airfares but higher hotel rates this year, compared with last year, according to AAA.
Airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes are 6 percent, or an average of $174, lower this year. Rates at AAA Three Diamond-rated hotels are 4 percent higher than a year ago, costing an average of $150 a night, while prices for Two Diamond-rated hotels have jumped 11 percent, to an average cost of $119 a night, according to AAA.
Those renting cars to get to their destinations will pay an average of $68 a day to do so, a 3 percent increase over last year, according to AAA.