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Holiday travel increase expected

AAA expects a 34% increase in holiday season travel over 2020, despite surging COVID-19 numbers.

“Americans who canceled their vacations in 2020 want to gather with family and friends for the holidays this year, although they will still be mindful of the pandemic and the new omicron variant,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “With vaccines widely available, conditions are much different, and many people feel a greater level of comfort with travel.”

More than 109 million people are expected to travel 50 or more miles from home during the holidays, AAA reported last week. That will bring the number of travelers to 92% of what they were in 2019, the last holiday travel season before the pandemic took hold. AAA defines the holiday travel season as Dec. 23 to Jan. 2.

Airlines are expected to have a particularly large increase. AAA forecasts 6.4 million people traveling by plane this year — up from just 2.3 million in 2020.

Still, drivers will dwarf fliers, with more than 100 million expected to hit the road. They will find gas prices considerably higher than last year’s holiday season.

On Monday, AAA reported the national average price of a gallon of gas is $3.31, compared to $2.22 a year ago. In New York State, it’s averaging $3.51 a gallon, up from $2.30 in 2020. AAA Western and Central New York reported prices for seven upstate cities ranged between $3.46 and $3.54 a gallon.

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