Hitting the road for the holidays

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If you haven’t heard by now, AAA is predicting that some 93.3 million Americans are expected to travel this holiday season – which the group defines as spanning from Saturday, Dec. 22 to Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013 – with 84.4 million of them (almost 90%) making their trips by automobile.

Think the words “traffic congestion” would be appropriate for use right about now?

AAA added that those 93.3 million holiday travelers – an increase of 1.6% over last year’s numbers and  within half a million of the decade “high water” holiday travel mark set during the 2006/2007 season – are expected to journey 50 miles or more from home, with transportation costs consuming about 29 cents of every travel dollar.

The group – which bases its predictions on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight by the way – also estimates that the national average price of gasoline will continue to slowly drop through the end of the year, averaging between $3.20 and $3.40 per gallon by New Year's Day.

That's better than what the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is projecting, however.

In terms of fuel prices, the agency thinks that regular gasoline retail prices in the U.S. should average $3.63 per gallon by the end of this year, then fall to $3.43 per gallon in 2013.

Not too shabby when compared to the average U.S. price for gasoline in 2011 of $3.53 per gallon, when you think about it.

[Diesel fuel retail prices in the U.S., by the way, should average $4.02 per gallon during the fourth quarter of 2012 before falling to an average of $3.84 per gallon in 2013, the EIA said.]

Still, AAA pointed out that while gasoline prices dropped about 50 cents a gallon on average from September through early December, they yet remain at record highs for this time of year.

Let's just hope Santa Claus keeps putting lower fuel prices under the tree. Hey! You just never know ... 

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