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Why You Will Want to Leave Early if You're Using Your Car to Travel This Holiday Season

At least 98 million Americans are expected to be on the roads over the course of 12 days.

Planning to drive to see family this holiday season? You may want to leave early.

According to a prediction from AAA, 98.6 million Americans will be on the roads driving 50 miles or more from home to celebrate the holidays between Dec. 23 to Jan. 4.  That's up four point two percent from last year and it marks the highest expected travel numbers in 5 years.

Marshall Doney, AAA’s chief operating officer, said, "Lower gas prices are filling stockings with a little more cash to spend on travel this year as travelers are expected to pay the lowest prices since 2009."

Doney also noted the falling gas prices will mean families have a few extra dollars to set aside for other family traditions; "Lower prices are increasing disposable income and enabling families to set aside money for travel this year.”

The average price for U.S. regular gasoline dropped to $2.54 per gallon Dec. 14; according to the motoring group that's the lowest price point since 2009 and that's a 23 percent drop just this year.

Gas prices have dropped for 82 straight days in a row, and AAA says that has certainly impacted their total expected holiday travel volume which is predicted to reach the highest peak ever recorded by the company (AAA has recorded and predicted travel statistics since 2001).

[sharequote align="center"]Gas prices have dropped for 82 straight days in a row to $2.54 December 14.[/sharequote]

The motoring and insurance company also says Airline travel is expected to see a boost of around one percent to hit 5.7 million travelers this year. Picturing a hectic, bustling airport may urge some to take to the roads, but AAA also released other shocking numbers that may make travelers think twice about hitting the roads without a back-up plan: The company expects to come to the rescue of at least 1.1 million stranded motorists during the twelve days most-traveled around Christmas and the New Year.

If you do decide to fly instead of taking advantage of the lower gas prices, just remember: don't pre-wrap the presents. TSA has the authority to open boxes even in checked bags.

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Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter

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