Santuario de la Virgen de los Remedios, San Pedro Cholula, Mexico

Costs Are Down, Travel is Up⇑

The American Automobile Association is a massive network of local travel businesses with reach to tens of millions of Americans. They enjoy substantial data on travel consumer behavior and travel intentions, to draw accurate travel forecasts.

This holiday season, they’re projecting 115.2 million travelers will travel more than 50 miles during the 10 days of Xmas/New Year period. That’s a 2% growth over 2022’s volumes, but not quite to the record in 2019 where it hit 219 million. It looks like more are heading to overseas and exotic locales for more active experiences. That might reflect the youth of today’s travelers and a zeal to travel now and not wait any longer. Read onto why they might be traveling more in 2023 and the places they want to visit.

“This year-end holiday forecast, with an additional 2.5 million travelers compared to last year, mirrors what AAA Travel has been observing throughout 2023,” said Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel. “More Americans are investing in travel, despite the cost, to make memories with loved ones and experience new places.”

Year holiday travel comparison.
Year holiday travel comparison. Screenshot courtesy of AAA.

They predict airline travel will increase the most.

And Americans will drive more this season, up 1.8% from last year partly because of the staycation trend and due to gasoline being much lower of late. Jet fuel is also lower this year leading to lower airline flights making flights a little more affordable.  The trend appears to be to lower fuel prices, and that could stimulate a strong year of travel ahead, from staycations to exotic tours abroad.

AAA predicts more than 4 million Americans will take alternative transportation including Cruises, Trains over Christmas and New Year’s compared to 3.66 million in 2022 and 3.89 million in 2019. That’s a 10.7% growth.

Travel congestion, delayed flights, and missed connections and changed bookings will likely be a common occurence
And travel management software platforms will try to save the day to manage itineraries to keep travelers on their way safely and successfully.

International Holiday Travel

With respect to travel management issues, IMG (International Medical Group — travel insurance products) expects a 23% increase in travel protection plan purchases for trips departing between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day compared to the same timeframe in 2022. They see a 12% increase in the average insured trip cost among IMG travelers. Trips will average 9 days, one more day than the average for holiday travel in 2022. IMG believes weather will be the biggest threat to delays and cancellations in the weeks ahead.  Let’s hope not!

Predicts the top 5 international destinations for U.S. travelers during the Nov to Dec holiday season will be:

  1. Mexico
  2. Aruba
  3. Jamaica
  4. Dominican Republic
  5. Bahamas
Airfare price comparisons for international travel.
Airfare price comparisons for international travel. Screenshot courtesy of Hopper.

Hopper reports that airline prices are down $40 from 2022, and car rentals for Christmas are currently averaging $53 per day, in line with prices at this time last year.

Airfare price comparisons Xmas Travel season.
Airfare price comparisons Xmas Travel season. Screenshot courtesy of Hopper.

And where are the best international Xmas holiday travel destinations?

CNN Traveler offers its 2020 list of prized Christmas destinations:

  • Thailand
  • Cran Canaria
  • The Cotswolds
  • Bruges, Belgium
  • New York City
  • Barbados
  • Iceland
  • Dubai
  • Finish Lapland
  • Cape Town South Africa
  • The Bahamas
  • St Moritz, Switzerland
  • St Lucia, Caribbean
  • Puerto Vajarta, Mexico
  • Hawaii
  • Whistler, Canada
  • Bali, Indonesia
  • Salvador Brazil
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Atlas Mountains, Morocco
  • Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
  • Val d’Isere, France
  • Dude Ranch, Colorado
  • Cusco, Peru
  • Himalayan Trekking Nepal
  • Cartagena Columbia
  • Sydney Australia
  • Salzburg, Austria

Wow, that’s an interesting list for those who want to either escape Xmas or experience a completely new way to celebrate the holidays.

Whatever your purpose or tastes, the 2023 travel season should serve up some interesting possibilities. Conde Nast’s recommendations include tour experiences and volunteering in far-off lands. As long as it’s safe, it might be a once in a lifetime experience for you and the local residents there.

You’ll be looking for tour experience marketplaces and travel management services to help you plan your itinerary. That’s especially important when you’re headed to places where they don’t speak your language, use different currencies and directions and addresses are sketchy. A local guide might be the ticket to help you get better oriented and informed in these locales. Enjoy the attractions and people they introduce you to.

Read more on travel marketing and the power of travel management software to raise service quality, improve brand and elevate your profitability.

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