Originally created 11/23/04

High gas prices won't diminish holiday travel



High gas prices almost kept Kristen Tucker from traveling to Birmingham, Ala., this Thanksgiving to see her family, but like an estimated 1.24 million other Georgians, the Augusta woman decided to go anyway.

Gas is about 40 cents more expensive now than it was this time last year, but it doesn't seem to be stopping many Americans from seeing their families over the holidays.

"(Gas prices) were a big worry ... But I like the trips; I have fun on them," Mrs. Tucker said.

An increase in travel nationwide is expected between 6 p.m. Wednesday and midnight Sunday, AAA Auto Club South spokesman Gregg Laskoski said. More than 3 million people are expected to travel in the Southeast.

A rise in consumer confidence is one reason people are traveling more this year, Mr. Laskoski said.

"Because of the nature of this holiday, there's not a lot that we can foresee that would impede consumer travel," Mr. Laskoski said.

In Georgia, more than 1 million travelers are expected to drive to their holiday destinations.

Many from Augusta will be driving during the holiday, AAA Augusta spokeswoman Judy Reville said.

"The majority of people in this area will be driving to see family and friends. ... If they're going to travel, automobile is still going to be less expensive than flying," Ms. Reville said.

Nationwide there will still be an increase in people flying, according to the Air Transport Association, which expects more than 16.3 million people to fly during the holiday. Last year airlines saw about 15.9 million Americans fly. The increase can be attributed to lower fares, according to the Air Transport Association.

Mrs. Oliver says she thought about flying to Alabama, but then decided against it.

"It's just easier to drive there ... and cheaper," she said.

Reach Phil Watson at (706) 828-3904 or phil.watson@augustachronicle.com.

DESTINATIONS

Where are Americans going for the holidays?

63 percent will stay overnight with relatives or friends.

23 percent will stay in a hotel or motel.

3 percent will stay in a condo or a cabin.

2 percent will stay in a camper, trailer or RV.

1 percent will stay elsewhere.

Source: AAA