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Sunday, December 23, 2007 - Page updated at 12:34 AM

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High gas prices, airfares dampen holiday travel

Seattle Times Travel staff

High gas prices and airfares have slowed the growth in Christmas-New Year travel this season, according to the AAA. While about 65.2 million Americans will travel over the holidays, that's up only 0.7 percent from last year when 64.7 million people traveled more than 50 miles from home. Previous years have seen larger increases in travelers. "Whether driving or flying, Americans face steep increases in their travel budgets during this Christmas-New Year's holiday," said Robert L. Darbelnet, president and CEO of AAA, in a statement issued today. "Gasoline prices remain at unprecedented levels for this time of year with prices of $3 a gallon or more a common sight across much of the country. Airfares averaging 16 percent more than last Christmas mean that bargains may be hard to find for those looking to fly to their destinations."

More than 80 percent of all holiday travelers — 53 million people — will go by road this holiday season, according to AAA's survey of 2,200 adults. That's up 0.9 percent from the 52.5 million who drove in 2006.

About 8.9 million Americans (13.7 percent of holiday travelers) to travel by airplane, said AAA, a slight decrease of 0.3 percent from the last holiday season. About 3.3 million travelers will go by train, bus or other mode of transportation.

Kristin Jackson: kjackson@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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