Holiday travel expected to be busiest on record

AAA-Oregon expects busiest travel period

High holiday travel projections

BEND, Ore. - The holiday travel season officially starts on Friday. The dates for the travel season span from then until January 2nd, and AAA has projected that span to be busier this year than it ever has been.

The projections have more than 103 million Americans traveling for the holidays, a 1.5 percent increase from last year. In Oregon, about 1.3 million people will be traveling, which is about a third of the state's population.

One reason for the increase is a steadily improving economy.

"When we saw the economy tank a few years ago during the recession of 2008 and 2009, we saw drops in travel during those years," Marie Dodds, AAA Oregon's director of government and public affairs, said Tuesday in Bend. "And since then, travel has steadily been increasing, and this year we're seeing a record number."

Luckily, gas prices this holiday season are as low as we've seen in years, even though in Oregon they're still about 30 cents more expensive than the national average.

Although prices are climbing again as of late, they're still relatively low, so it makes sense that most people traveling this season will do so by car.

"Normally the vast majority of folks drive, and that is the case this year," Dodds said. "We're seeing about 91 percent of all holiday travelers driving to their holiday destinations."

About 6 million Americans will be flying this year, up 2.5 percent from last year. That figure includes over a quarter-million Oregonians.

The top travel destinations this holiday season are Las Vegas, Orlando, New York City, San Diego and Anaheim (home do Disneyland).

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