Holiday travel gets under way this week in Oklahoma

AAA Oklahoma says 852,300 Oklahomans will travel for Christmas or New Year's. Highway travel is expected to increase by 1.3 percent in the state, and air traffic will be up nearly 6 percent.
by Jennifer Palmer Modified: December 18, 2012 at 8:35 pm •  Published: December 19, 2012

For many, getting ready for the holidays also means packing suitcases and catching a plane or filling the gasoline tank and hitting the road.

Nationwide, travel is expected to increase by 1.6 percent this Christmas, with 93.3 million Americans traveling 50 miles or more from home between Saturday and Jan. 1, AAA predicts. Of those, 84.4 million will drive, 5.6 million will fly, and 3.27 million will go by other means, including bus, train, cruise ship or multiple methods.

Travelers often are unwilling to give up visiting family for Christmas, resulting in a stable travel volume, AAA says.

“The year-end holiday season remains the least volatile of all travel holidays as Oklahomans will not let economic conditions or high gas prices dictate if they go home for the holidays or kick off the New Year with a vacation,” said Chuck Mai, a spokesman for AAA Oklahoma.

“Primary economic indicators all show modest improvement from last year, and AAA is projecting an increase in the number of Americans stuffing their stockings with airline tickets and hotel reservations.”

A recent drop in gasoline prices will be a treat for those taking a road trip, which includes 800,500 Oklahomans, with the state's average price for a gallon of regular unleaded at $3 a gallon Tuesday and expected to drop below $3 a gallon for the first time since February 2011. At many metro area stations, gasoline was hovering in the $2.80 range.

Motorists may want to watch out for winter weather as varying forecasts show a white Christmas possible in parts of the region.

“The whole world wants a white Christmas except those who work at an airport,” said Alexis Higgins, a spokeswoman for Tulsa International Airport, when asked about the possibility of snow this year. Winter weather even in other states could cause flight delays in Oklahoma.

by Michael Baldwin
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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