ALBANY, GA (WALB) – More Americans are heading home for the holidays. Triple-A predicts more than 87-million people will travel for Christmas. That's an increase of nearly 4-percent over last year. It's a sign the economy is rebounding but it's a different story in the southeast where travel is expected to be down.
The holiday travel period officially kicks off Wednesday. Here in Georgia, it seems Christmas will be spent closer to home. Travel is predicted to be down nearly 5-percent.
It was the airport hustle and bustle of the holidays at Albany's airport Tuesday afternoon. There were lots of hugs and smiles as people arrived to their destination. For one family, it was a reunion several months in the making.
"I'm just so glad to see him home," said Betty Richardson.
"Oh, this feels great," said First Lieutenant Lorenzo Richardson.
First Lieutenant Lorenzo Richardson is home from Afghanistan. "Just trying to make up lost time and just enjoy my family," said 1LT Richardson.
It'll be two weeks of family time for the Richardsons. "For the next two weeks, I know we're going to be lit up and celebrating Christmas," said Wallace Richardson.
Like the Richardson family, celebrating Christmas means someone is traveling. 4.2 million will hit the air nationwide. That's up nearly 3-percent over last year. But here in Georgia, only 139,000 people are expected to fly.
More people plan to drive at an estimated 2.63 million. Overall, a little more than 3-million Georgians will travel by flying and driving.
"It's going to be one of the best Christmases we've had in a long time," said Wallace Richardson.
Wallace Richardson is just happy that his son was able to travel home for Christmas. Both he and his wife Betty will try not to think about the time when that visit ends.
"Hate to see when that time comes so I'm just going to enjoy the moment," said Betty Richardson. It's moments like those airport reunions that more people chose to put off in Georgia this year.
Triple-A says higher gas prices shouldn't deter holiday drivers too much. Tuesday the average price of a gallon of regular gas was $2.43 in Georgia. Last year that same gallon of gas went for $1.59.
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