Originally created 12/16/06

AAA expects record travel



Whether it's over the river, through the woods, or some other combination of sylvan and urban traversing, a record number of travelers are expected to leave home for the holidays, according to AAA.

Despite rising hotel and gasoline prices, a projected 64.9 million Americans will travel this season.

Christmas falls on Monday this year, so officials are expecting most holiday travel to begin the Friday before.

More than 1.6 million Georgians are expected to take to the roads and drive 50 miles or more - continuing the Southeast's run as the region with the highest proportion of travelers, according to AAA.

Gas prices are up about 12 cents a gallon nationally from last year, according to AAA. In Augusta, the average for a gallon of regular unleaded was $2.14, up 2 cents from a year ago.

Judy Reville, AAA of Augusta spokeswoman, said people will brave the higher traffic and prices during the holidays to be with loved ones.

"So many people find, like Thanksgiving, that they want to be with their families," Ms. Reville said.

More and more, however, they seem to be forgoing a holiday at Grandma's for something a little more stimulating, Ms. Reville said. Many families are planning cruises and trips to Disney World, rather than having everyone gather at one person's house, she said.

"It's a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas together, but away from home," Ms. Reville said. "We're seeing more of that all of the time."

Travelers this year will see a 4 percent increase in hotel rates from 2005, while rental car rates have dropped 3 percent, according to AAA. Airline tickets are about the same as last year.

Diane Johnston, the marketing director for Augusta Regional Airport, said traffic has been increasing at the airport as the holiday approaches.

"It seems like it's been a little busier," she said. "I'm hopeful that December will be a very strong month."

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

LOCAL GAS PRICES


Prices are for one gallon of regular unleaded gasoline


Georgia


Augusta*..........$2.14


Atlanta.............$2.21


Columbus........$2.17


Savannah........$2.20


Macon.............$2.17


Georgia...........$2.20

* Includes Aiken and North Augusta




South Carolina


Charleston.............$2.18


Columbia................$2.15


Myrtle Beach..........$2.20


Greenville...............$2.12


South Carolina.......$2.17

Source: www.fuelgaugereport.com