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Holiday travel on the rise

POSTED December 16, 2011 8:39 p.m.

More Californians are expected to travel this holiday than last year, despite the recession.
AAA is predicting an estimated 11.4 million travelers during this end of the year holiday season, representing an overall increase of 4.1 percent compared to 2010.
Californians are maintaining their holiday traditions by traveling for the Christmas and New Year celebrations, according to the latest travel survey from AAA Northern California.
"Californians are scaling back on travel expenditures as they express pessimism over the current sluggish economy," said AAA Northern California spokesperson Cynthia Harris. "But many are creating opportunities to visit family and friends during these holidays to catch up on much needed rest and rejuvenation after a very challenging year."
AAA estimates more than 10 million Californians traveling during Christmas and New Year's will choose to drive to reach their holiday destinations, representing a 2.5 percent increase compared to last year.
Making travel more feasible for local residents is the recent drop in gasoline prices. Average retail gasoline prices in the Modesto area - which includes Turlock - have fallen 5.1 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.48 a gallon. This compares with the national average that has fallen 0.7 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.28/g, according to gasoline price website ModestoGasPrices.com.
"Gasoline prices remain in limbo across parts of the U.S. while oil prices continue to swing in different directions as traders digest changes in market sentiment," according to GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "The national average remains subdued close to levels that we saw last week, but prices may soon move slightly higher as they follow a rising trend in wholesale gasoline prices."
The air travel industry will experience a decrease this year as slightly more than 925,000 Californians expected to fly, representing a significant drop of -9.9 percent compared to 2010. Approximately 370,000 state residents are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, such as boats or trains. This represents a 2.5 percent increase compared to last year.
Nationally, AAA projects 91.1 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday festivities. That's a 1.4 percent increase compared to last year.
Family travel constitutes 28 percent of total travelers during the year-end holidays. An average West Coast family of four will save money by staying with friends and family, with overall expenditures of $711. An average West Coast road trip will consist of approximately 680 miles.
Californians who take to the skies during this holiday season will pay an average price of $210 per round trip ticket for the top U.S. air routes. This represents a stiff increase of 21 percent from last year. Airfares are expected to be 21 percent higher than last year as jet fuel and constrained capacity issues continue to impact the airline industry.
AAA's projections are based on research conducted by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm teamed with AAA earlier this year as part of an agreement to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

 

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