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What good is sitting alone in your room? Xmas travelers abound

It’s hard to imagine that anyone would want to leave San Francisco over the holidays, but we may want to prepare for an influx of visitors. AAA predicts that 99 million Americans will leave home this Christmas and New Year’s, most of them by car.

AAA cites lower gas prices as a major reason more people are driving than flying. Travel itself looks better this year because the economy is on the upswing and, perhaps most importantly, the holidays easily accommodate a long weekend. In fact, the federal government has, perhaps at the specific request of its workforce, declared Dec. 26 a paid holiday.

If we reach AAA’s estimate of 99 million travelers, we will break last year’s record of 94.8 million. (“Travelers” are people that are traveling more than 50 miles from home.)

Gas prices are expected to drop even lower before Christmas, and that translates into a significant savings over last year. If prices go down by 10 to 20 cents a gallon, as AAA is predicting, drivers would be paying almost 90 cents less than 2013.

The trick will be staying safe on the roads, of course. Drivers will be out there with 98.99 million other people, all just as anxious to get to their destinations. They all need to stay alert and to minimize distractions.

Airlines for America, the airline industry’s trade association, says the worst may already be over for airport traffic. The organization expected that school vacations would start on Dec. 19, packing planes over the weekend with tired teens and carry-ons full of dirty laundry. Travelers looking for a little more breathing room will meet fewer fellow flyers on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

The safety rules are a little different for air travelers. The key is to remember that the trip isn’t over when you land. Getting out of a crowded airport and to your final destination can be stressful, especially in a strange city. Again, travelers should take their time, reduce distractions and follow the rules of the road.

Source: USA Today, “Holiday travel to set national record, AAA says,” Dawn Gilbertson, Dec. 16, 2014

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