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Holiday Travelers Face Higher Costs

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Holiday travel will begin picking up this week. The Triple A of Western and Central New York says 63.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more during the Christmas and New Year's holiday, a nearly two percent increase over last year.

Some travelers will be heading home to be with family and friends. Others are using their time away for a vacation to a warm weather destination. Triple A spokesman Wally Smith says people will be traveling in record numbers over the next two weeks.

"Even though there are some increases in pricing for travelers this holiday, that will not deter them from getting out and going where they want to go," Smith said.

Indeed, nearly all travel costs are higher this Christmas and New Year's, starting with gasoline. It costs 32-cents more a gallon this year than last. But Smith says gasoline prices are still on a downward trend from this summer's record highs.

"We're seeing about a 17 percent decrease from a month ago. Prices have fallen about 17-cents a gallon in the past month," Smith said.

Eighty-one percent of all holiday travelers will be going by car this holiday. Another 14 percent will travel by air. And Smith says they'll be paying higher air fares.

"They're up about 11 percent from last year," Smith said. "A lot of this depends on when you travel and where you travel. Certainly, there is much demand for air travel at this time of year."

Holiday hotel rates are also up by some 14 percent.

Smith says travelers who have waited until the last minute to make their plans are finding higher costs and fewer options.

The most popular destination this holiday is Orlando, followed by Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York City.