The Christmas holiday period is expected to experience the largest drop in travel of the five major holidays in 2008 and is the first projected decline in Christmas travel since 2002.
Philadelphia area auto travel is also expected to decline nearly 3% compared to Christmas 2007, while air travel is predicted to drop nearly 10%.
Most people who travel for Christmas - more than four out of five – or 82% - will travel by automobile.
“Earlier this year, gas prices held people back and now, it’s the economy,” said Catherine L. Rossi, Manager of Public and Government Affairs, AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Family discretionary travel budgets are not what they used to be. Even with low gas prices, residents are choosing to stay closer to home this Christmas.”
Nationally, auto travel projected to be down 2.1% and air travel projected to be down more than 8.5%.
Other modes of travel, such as trains and buses are expected to be up slightly by almost 1%.
When will most people be on the road:
With Christmas falling on a Thursday this year, it appears that travelers are looking forward to starting their holiday trip early.
Almost a third of likely holiday travelers (32%) say they expect to begin their holiday travels on or before Sunday, December 21.
After a brief pause, travel departures pick up on Tuesday the 23rd (13%) and peak on Christmas Eve (17%).
One-in-ten holiday travelers are likely to travel on Christmas day, while 14% are planning to travel after Christmas up through December 31.
Almost 10% of travelers are not sure when they will begin their holiday trip.