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    Not Home for the Holidays

    Travel to increase 2.2 percent during Christmas-New Year's holiday, says AAA.

    BURNSVILLE, Minn. -- More Americans will travel this Christmas-New Year's holiday than ever before, according to AAA, which estimates that 64.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a 2.2 percent increase from last year.

    "Because hotel rates, air fares and gas prices have risen only slightly from this time last year, Americans will not hold back when making travel arrangements this holiday season," AAA said in a news release. "This Christmas-New Year's holiday, we will see a healthy growth in travelers, following relatively flat travel seasons earlier in the year."

    Approximately 52.6 million travelers (81 percent of all holiday travelers) expect to go by motor vehicle -- a 2.1 percent increase from the 51.5 million who drove a year ago. Auto travelers will find gas prices nationwide currently averaging $2.29 for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline, up 7 cents during the last month, and 12 cents higher than a year ago.

    As in 2005, the greatest number of Christmas-New Year auto travelers will originate in the Southeast with 13.8 million, followed by the West at 13.2 million; Midwest at 10.2 million; the Great Lakes at 8.3 million; and the Northeast at 7.2 million.

    Small towns and rural areas are the expected destination for 37.6 percent of holiday travelers, followed by cities, 35.3 percent. Oceans and beaches should see 10.1 percent of travelers, followed by mountain areas, 6.5 percent; theme/amusement parks, 3.9 percent; 0.7 percent for lake areas; and 0.1 percent for state/national parks. Another 4.7 percent responded with other and 1.2 percent did not know, according to AAA.

    Research for Christmas-New Year's holiday travel is based on a national telephone survey of 2,000 adults by the Travel Industry Association of America, which conducts special research for AAA. AAA provides more than 49 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services and member-only savings.

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