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Traveling this Christmas? Join the club.

By: 20 December 2010 One Comment

According to AAA in St. Louis, holiday travel will be on the rise this Christmas season — part of a trend that started months ago.

AAA spokesman Mike Right said holiday travel has been up all year long, explaining that his organization saw more travelers hit the road starting on Memorial Day and have seen that increase has held through the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. The AAA projects that more travelers will hit the road through Christmas and New Year’s Day, too.

Right said the AAA expects to see 92.3 million travelers through Christmas and New Year’s — an increase of 3 percent from last year. Most people — 92.85 percent, in fact — will travel by car, meaning 85.7 million motorists are expected to be on the road across the nation for the holidays.

Right said the AAA expects about 2.75 million people to travel by airplane and that’s a slight increase from last year. Additionally, 3.8 million people are expected to use other modes of transportation — right said the majority of travelers falling into the “other” category will travel by train.

Why is travel on the rise this year? Right said it has a lot to do with consumer confidence — people just feel better about their financial situations than they did a year ago. Also, a lot of people worried about finances put off traveling last year and are making good on promises to visit their families during holidays this year.

The bad news for travelers this year is that fuel prices are up significantly from a year ago. In Arkansas, a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline costs an average of $2.818 today — an increase of 15.26 percent from $2.445 a year ago. Diesel fuel in Arkansas costs an average of $3.142 per gallon, up 16.5 percent from $2.697 a year ago.

Nationally, a gallon of unleaded costs as average of $2.981, according to AAA. The price of a gallon of diesel costs $3.359 today. The highest average price for a gallon of unleaded today is Hawaii at $3.618 per gallon while Colorado boasts the lowest average of $2.738. The average price of $4.046 for a gallon of diesel in Hawaii is the highest in the nation, while the average of $3.072 in Oklahoma is the lowest.

The highest average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in Arkansas is $3.972 on July 17, 2008, according to AAA. The highest average price on record for a gallon of diesel in Arkansas is $4.773, recorded on July 18, 2008.

Why are gas prices up this Christmas season compared to last year? Right said the short answer is that crude oil prices have increased to $88 or $90 per barrel from the low $70s a year ago. He said Wall Street analysts say the increase has to do with speculators entering the commodities market and investing heavily, thus driving up prices.

Right stressed, however, that’s the “current excuse” for rising prices and one that is subject to change.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

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