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Holiday travel on the rise

POSTED December 18, 2012 7:56 p.m.

The roads and skies will be busier than ever this Christmas.

This holiday season is projected to tally the highest number of travelers ever recorded, according to a survey from AAA Northern California.

Nationwide, more than 93 million people will travel 50 miles or more between Christmas and New Year’s Day, up 1.6 percent. As many as 11.7 million Californians will travel during that period, up 1.8 percent from 2011.

“For the fourth consecutive year, California has seen a slow to steady increase in travel volume,” said AAA Northern California spokesperson Cynthia Harris. “This season we are experiencing the highest number of travelers as Californians kick-start the New Year with a holiday vacation.”

The vast majority of travelling Californians – 10 million – will take to the streets to reach their holiday destinations, up 1.4 percent.

Coming in second is air travel, with 950,000 Californians expected to fly, up 4.4 percent. Nationally, air travel is expected to tally 5.6 million travelers, up 4.5 percent.

An average round trip ticket is expected to cost $203, down 3 percent from last year. Car rentals will average $56, up from $40.

Experiencing the biggest increase is transportation by boat or train, up 7.4 percent year-over-year. About 398,000 Californians are expected to travel by rail or sea.

A plurality of California travelers, 32 percent, will visit family during the holidays. Other popular travel activities will be dining, sightseeing, nightlife, and going to the beach.

Three Diamond lodgings will cost 2 percent more than a year ago, $129 per night, while Two Diamond lodgings will average $95, up 3 percent.

An average West Coast family of four will spend $1,048 on their trip, travelling approximately 838 miles.

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