You won’t be the only one taking a trip this holiday season.

AAA announced today that it expects 92.2 million Americans to travel during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. That’s a 3.1 percent increase over the same period last year.

“This is the fifth consecutive holiday period this year in which AAA has predicted a year-to-year increase in the number of travelers,” said Glen MacDonell, director of AAA Travel Services.

“After a challenging year in 2009, a modestly improved economic environment and pent-up demand resulted in more Americans traveling in 2010, and the year-end holidays are no exception.”

The projection is based on economic forecasting and research by the Boston economic and research consulting firm IHS Global Insight. The holiday time period is defined as Thursday December 23, 2010 through Sunday January 2, 2011.

Here are some more projections from the AAA/IHS Global Insight 2010 to 2011 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast:

  • Nine out of 10 Americans will drive to get to their holiday destinations – 3.2 percent more than last year.
  • During the year-end holiday period, 2.75 million holiday travelers will fly – 2.8 percent more than last year.
  • Americans expect to travel an average distance of 1,052 miles. That’s 33 percent further than they did last year.
  • Americans expect to spend, on average, 4% more than they did last year on holiday travel.
  • Some 75 percent of Americans report they are traveling this time of year to visit family or friends.
  • According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates are expected to increase 5 percent, airfare is expected to decrease 3 percent and daily car rental rates will remain the same.

This is the first time in four years that I won’t be going home for an extended period of time over the holidays; mainly because I am no longer a college student, and can’t afford to take a month off at work.

I have managed to convince my mom that I won’t be coming home this Christmas at all because of my “work schedule” and the lack of time-off I’m able to get as a new employee. My dad told me that she’s been mopping around the house, feeling sad and depressed that “this will be the first time the whole family isn’t together on Christmas.” Like many other mothers, mine likes to have all of her kids under one roof.

Little does she know that I’ll be waking up at 2:30 a.m on Christmas Eve to catch a flight to Toronto (Canada) to surprise her. My dad and my three younger sisters are all in on the plan and we can’t wait to see her reaction.

It’s going to be a bittersweet trip. Although I’ll only be staying home for two nights and have to go through a two and a half hour drive to the airport, then a few hours of US customs and security checks, seeing the joy on my mother’s face will make it all worth it. That’s what Christmas is all about, right?