65 Million Travelers Expected During Holidays

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Due to reasonable fuel and vacation costs, more Americans than ever before will be persuaded to travel this Christmas-New Year's holiday. AAA estimates that 64.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a healthy 2.2 percent increase from last year's 63.5 million travelers. The top five driving destinations for Arizona residents are Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego and Bakersfield, California, based on recent TripTik numbers. As in previous years, California remains the most popular out-of-state destination.

"Between now and New Year's, many Arizonans are either staying close to home or going to cities in California," says AAA Arizona's Public Affairs Manager, Linda Gorman. "One of the reasons California is so popular is that it's nearby, so many Arizona transplants can quickly make their way home for the holidays. Additionally as hotel rates, air fares and gas prices have risen only slightly from this time last year, people have more of an incentive to spend time with loved ones out-of-state this holiday season."

Following the Southeast, the West has the second-highest proportion of the population expected to travel over the holiday, at 23.2 percent, a 1.6 percent increase over last year.

Nationally, approximately 52.6 million travelers (81 percent of all holiday travelers) expect to travel by motor vehicle, a 2.1 percent increase from one year ago. 13.2 million of those travelers are expected to travel from the western states, a 1.4 percent increase over last year. Holiday auto travelers will find gas prices nationwide currently averaging $2.29 for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline, up six cents during the last month, and 11 cents higher than one year ago.

Another nine million people across the country (nearly 14 percent of all holiday travelers) plan to travel by airplane, up 2.7 percent from last year. 2.5 million of those are expected to generate from the West.

As for accommodations this holiday season, approximately 66 percent of all travelers expect to stay at a friend or relative's home. Hotels and motels are a distant second at 19.7 percent, followed by cabin/condo, 2.4 percent; camper/trailer/RV/tent, 1.9 percent; other, 1.8 percent; no overnight stay, 5.1 percent; and didn't know, 1.3 percent.

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