AAA survey finds number of holiday travelers increasing

3% more Californians, or 10.6 million, will travel to their destinations by car this season

More people in California and across the nation are traveling over the Christmas and New Year's holidays, according to the latest AAA Northern California survey.

Across the state, the survey estimates more than 11.6 million Californians will travel over the holidays, representing an overall increase of 3 percent compared to last year, AAA Northern California spokeswoman Cynthia Harris said.

The national average is up as well, according to AAA, with 92.3 million people in the U.S. projected to travel 50 miles or more during the holidays, which is an increase of 3.1 percent since last year.

More people are expected to get behind the wheel to arrive at their holiday destinations, with AAA projecting that 3 percent more Californians -- or a total of 10.6 million people -- will opt to travel by automobile, Harris said.

To help ensure the safety of all of these motorists, AAA is offering their Tipsy Tow service for members and non-members alike, Harris said.

From 6 p.m. on Dec. 24 through 6 a.m. Dec. 25 and from 6 p.m. Dec. 31 through 6 a.m. Jan. 1, drivers in Northern California who have been drinking can call (800) AAA-HELP for a free tow of up to 10 miles.

"Just tell the AAA operator, 'I need a Tipsy Tow,' and a truck will be on its way," Harris said. "Service is restricted to a one-way ride for the driver and his or her vehicle to the driver's home."

Harris also offers some gas saving tips for those traveling by car this holiday season, and advises motorists to keep luggage off the roof, be gentle on the gas and brake pedals, and properly inflate tires.

The number of travelers flying this year is up as well, according to AAA projections, with more than 478,000 Californians are expected to take to the skies to get to their holiday destinations.

AAA's tips for holiday airport travel include checking in online and printing your boarding pass at home, packing light, and leaving room for plenty of time at the airport, Harris said.

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