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Report: More holiday travelers to hit road this year

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For anyone who spent extra time in the car this week after Sunday's storm snarled traffic, here's a bit of not-so-cheery news: Holiday traffic volumes will be higher than usual.

More than a quarter of the nation – roughly 93.3 million Americans – will travel more than 50 miles from home during the year-end holiday travel period from Dec. 22 to Jan. 1, AAA forecasts in a new report. That's an increase of 1.6 over 2011.

The report breaks the nation down by region, and it says the region that includes Minnesota (plus Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska) will have a 1.8 percent increase in travel during the holiday period.

Automobile travel in the region is predicted to increase by 1.5 percent and airplane travel will increase 4.8 percent. About 37.5 percent of people in the region will be traveling, AAA says.

Travelers nationwide will pay more to make their trips: AAA forecasts median spending of $759 this year, nearly 6 percent higher than last year.

The national average price of gas has fallen about 50 cents a gallon since September, and it could continue to go lower through the holidays, AAA says. But gas costs more now than in past holiday seasons, according to this AAA graphic:

Minnesota is averaging $3.12 a gallon, compared to $3.30 nationally, according to Minnesota Gas Prices, which notes the price has dipped below $3 at some stations across the state.

In other news, average airfares are higher year over year, but flying costs – adjusted for inflation – are roughly 14 percent lower than in 2000, according to Airlines for America, a U.S. airline industry group.

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