Santa will find a few more stockings hung at their own chimneys this year as projections show a decrease in holiday travelers.
"This Christmas through New Year's holiday 53.7 million Americans plan to travel 50 miles or more from home. This is a decrease of 6 percent from last year's 57.1 million travelers," reports Rolayne Fairclough, AAA Utah spokeswoman. "In Utah there will be 429,600 holiday travelers."
The 6 percent decrease is the same rate as the decrease in travelers during the last Thanksgiving holiday when 34.6 million Americans traveled as compared with 36.8 million the year before.
Approximately 42.2 million travelers are expected to go by motor vehicle this year.
This number represents a 1 percent drop from the 42.7 million who took a trip last year. Travelers taking a plane, train or bus will number 11.5 million. This is a 20 percent decrease from the 14.4 million who traveled last year.
"While concerns about air travel security by some Americans are a factor, the current recession and the nation's unemployment situation are the major contributors to the expected decline in holiday travel," said Fairclough.
Spurred in part by gas prices that have fallen to their lowest level since March 1999, 79 percent of those traveling this holiday will go by auto compared to 75 percent one year ago.
The Southeast is expected to have the greatest numbers of auto travelers with 11.4 million.
The western states come in second with 10.3 million travelers. Forty percent of the travelers plan to visit a town or rural area while another 34 percent expect to go to a city.
Sixty-four percent of travelers plan to stay with a friend or relative and another 23 percent will be staying at a hotel or motel.