A year-long uptick in holiday traveling is expected to continue for the Christmas/New Year's travel period, according to a forecast from AAA.
The auto club said 92.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Dec. 23 to Jan. 2 travel period, a 3.1 percent increase over the same period in 2009.
The same percentage increase is forecast for Wisconsin travelers, with 1.8 million state residents expected to make trips for Christmas and/or New Year's.
The survey was completed before an invitation was made to the Wisconsin Badgers football team to compete in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, so the actual percentage of state residents traveling for the holidays could be slightly higher.
"Wisconsin's year-end holiday travel will be even higher than projected as thousands of fans head to Pasadena to cheer on the Badgers," AAA Wisconsin president Tom Frymark said in a news release.
(As of Thursday, the Dane County Regional Airport has 25 charter flights scheduled to fly west for the Rose Bowl, with an estimated 5,000 fans on board.)
The increase in holiday travel for Christmas/New Year's is the fifth holiday in a row where the number of travelers increased over similar holidays in 2009.
At Thanksgiving, the number of travelers was up 11 percent over 2009; Labor Day travelers increased by 10 percent; Fourth of July travelers were up 17 percent; and Memorial Day holiday travelers were 5.4 percent greater than in 2009.
The AAA forecast said the average distance American travelers will go this upcoming holiday is 1,052 miles, a 33 percent increase.
Median spending is expected to be about $694 for holiday travel, compared to $670 last Christmas/New Year's.
Lodging is forecast to cost 5 percent higher this year at Christmas time, while airline fares are expected to be 3 percent lower.