LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — More Southern Californians will travel over this Christmas-New Year’s holiday than for any holiday since 2001, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

More than 7.57 million Southland residents, and nearly 12.2 million statewide, are expected to travel 50 miles or more between Dec. 23 through Jan. 4, an increase of 3.2 percent over 2013, the Auto Club said in a statement.

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Eighty-nine percent of travelers, or 6.72 million Southern Californians and 10.82 million statewide, will travel by car to their destinations – a 3.4 percent increase from last year. More than 597,000 local residents and 961,000 Californians are expected to fly, which is a 0.5 percent increase over 2013.

Travel across the nation is also expected to set a record, with 98.6 million travelers, an increase of 4 percent from last year.

The AAA said it is projecting an increase in holiday travelers because of greater household net worth, increased disposable income and a lower unemployment rate. Lower gas prices are also making getaways more affordable, KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports.

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At Los Angeles International Airport, the holiday travel season is regarded as taking place from Friday until Jan. 2. Nearly 2.97 million passengers will pass through LAX during that period, a 4.1 percent increase over last year, LAX airport officials said earlier this week.

The busiest travel days will be this coming Monday and Tuesday, Friday Dec. 26 and Monday Dec. 29, according to an airport statement, which said more than 211,000 passengers are expected on those days.

LAX officials recommend passengers planning to depart during daily peak travel periods — from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. — arrive two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights.

The most popular destinations for Southern Californians over this Christmas-New Year holiday, according to a poll of Auto Club AAA Travel agents, are, in the following order: Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego, the Grand Canyon and Anaheim. The top air destination is Hawaii.

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