Christmas travel forecast

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(This is an excerpt of a press release from AAA)

Consumer optimism is offsetting unresolved financial issues as millions of  Californians help propel this year’s holiday travel season into the second highest number of travelers seen in the past decade, according to the latest travel survey from AAA Northern California.

AAA predicts an estimated 11.7 million Californians will travel during the end-of-the-year holiday season, representing an overall increase of 1.8 percent compared to 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 since the 2006-2007 travel peak as Californians kick-start the New Year with a holiday vacation.”

AAA estimates that more than 10 million Californians traveling during Christmas and New Year’s will choose to drive to reach their holiday destinations, representing a 1.4 percent increase compared to last year. The air travel industry will also experience an increase of 4.4 percent this year as more than 950,000 Californians are expected to fly. Approximately 398,000 state residents are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, such as boats or trains. This represents an increase of 7.4 percent compared to last year.

Nationally, AAA projects that more than 93 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday festivities. That’s a 1.6 percent increase compared to last year.

Family travel constitutes 32 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, spending an average of $1,048 on their trip. An average West Coast road trip will consist of approximately 838 miles.

Californians who take to the skies during this holiday season will pay an average price of $203 per round trip ticket for the top U.S. air routes. This represents a decrease of three percent from last year. On a national level, air travel is expected to increase 4.5 percent as 5.6 million travelers will take to the skies.

According to AAA’s latest travel survey, the most popular activities for West Coast families this holiday season will be dining, visiting family and friends, sightseeing, nightlife, and going to beach/waterfront areas.

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