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Gas Up, Airfare Down for Labor Day Travel

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Thirty-three million people will travel at least 50 miles from home this Labor Day weekend, a 2.9 percent increase from last year, according to AAA.  The vast majority -- 85 percent-- will go by automobile, a 3.1 percent increase compared with last year.

The increase in automobile travel comes despite rising gas prices, up 16 cents per gallon as of Tuesday from a year ago.

Decreased airfare may play a part in the rising number of air travelers this holiday weekend, expected to rise 3.7 percent.  AAA reports average domestic airfare is down 4 percent from last year.

That decrease in airfare is even deeper to some of the nation's most popular vacation destinations.  Orbitz flight booking data found airfare was flat or down to most of its top 10 Labor Day destinations.  Airfare to Anaheim, Calif., saw the most dramatic drop at 11 percent.  Las Vegas airfare decreased 9 percent and airfare to Atlanta, 6 percent.

The vast majority of holiday weekend travelers are opting to stay stateside, turning the three-day weekend into an all-American holiday.  That's according to online booking giant Priceline, which compiled the top 50 Labor Day destinations based on bookings.  Some 47 of the top 50 destinations are domestic; Niagara Falls, Montreal and Toronto are the only international spots on the list.

"It appears that the Olympics hype and favorable exchange rates didn't do enough to offset high international airfares for the holiday," Priceline spokesperson Brian Ek said in a news release.  "Major U.S. cities, however, are going to be crowded over the long weekend, as visitors get in their back-to-school and fall shopping, and enjoy the restaurants, theaters and museums."

New York, Seattle and Las Vegas appear four times each on the top 50 list, while Chicago, San Francisco and Boston make three appearances each.  Philadelphia, with four spots on the list, and Hawaii, with two spots, failed to make the top 50 list in 2011.

[ CLICK HERE TO SEE PRICELINE'S TOP 50 LABOR DAY TRAVEL DESTINATIONS ]

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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