109 million Americans are expected to travel over the holiday season — a significant increase from last winter.

According to AAA’s recent Year-End Travel Forecast:

Americans who had to cancel getaways and get-togethers last year because of the pandemic are making up for lost time this holiday season. More than 109 million people — an almost 34% increase from 2020 — will travel 50 miles or more as they hit the road, board airplanes or take other transportation out of town between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2.

That dramatic bounce-back — 27.7 million more people traveling — will bring this year’s numbers to 92% of 2019 levels. Airlines will see a 184% increase from last year.

High gas prices, however, will dip into Americans’ pocketbooks as they visit friends and family:

Road trips remain the top mode of travel during the holidays, with over 100 million planning to head to their destinations in cars despite gas costing $1.25 per gallon more than a year ago. More than 6 million people are expected to travel by air, while 3 million people are booking buses, trains and cruises.

Prices for airfare have risen by 5% since last year; likewise, the average cost of hotel rentals has risen by 36%. Prices for car rentals have increased by 20% for Christmas travel and 65% for New Year’s.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that consumer price inflation reached a rate of 6.8% in November — the largest year-over-year increase since June 1982, as well as the sixth straight month in which inflation remained above 5%. Travel-related expenses have not been immune to inflationary pressures; according to the agency, prices for gas, used vehicles, hotels, and new vehicles have risen by 58.1%, 31.4%, 25.5%, and 11.1%, respectively.

According to a recent Gallup poll, American families — especially less advantaged ones — are feeling pressure from the rising prices:

45% of American households report that recent price increases are causing their family some degree of financial hardship. Ten percent describe it as severe hardship affecting their standard of living, while another 35% say the hardship is moderate…

Lower-income households are most likely to have experienced financial hardship due to price increases. Seventy-one percent of those living in households making less than $40,000 a year say that recent price hikes have caused their family financial hardship. That compares with 47% of those in middle-income households and 29% in upper-income households.

American economic officials have grown accustomed to the reality of persistently high prices.

“I am ready to retire the word transitory,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said at a recent event. “I can agree that that hasn’t been an apt description of what we are dealing with.”

“What we don’t want to have develop is a wage-price spiral, in which inflation becomes its own self-reinforcing kind of phenomenon that would become chronic in the U.S. economy — something endemic,” Yellen added.

She also applauded the Federal Reserve’s decision to begin slashing its aggressive monetary stimulus — namely, by cutting its monthly bond purchases by $20 billion and expecting three interest rate hikes in 2022.

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