road_trip TripAdvisor, one of the world’s most popular and largest travel communities, has announced the results of its December holiday travel survey of more than 1,200 travelers. Despite the economy, the number of Americans traveling for the holidays has increased slightly in each of the last three years: 45% of Americans are planning to travel for the December holidays this year, up from 42% one year ago and 39% in 2007.

New York and Los Angeles are the top two major U.S. cities travelers plan to visit during the holidays, according to the survey. Since September, these destinations have seen an approximately 100% increase in flights search activity on TripAdvisor. Honolulu and Las Vegas are the cities people wish they were visiting this holiday season. These “dream” destinations saw an approximately 50% increase in flights search since September.

Tightening Santa’s Belt a Bit Less
Sixty-two percent of travelers will be more budget conscious with their travel this December holiday season than last, down from 68% who answered the same one year ago. Among those planning to save, 50% plan to do so by staying at or near home instead of traveling, 20% plan to take a shorter trip than usual, and 15% will drive rather than fly.

Only Relative-ly Joyful
Eighty percent of travelers plan to see relatives over the December holidays, almost identical to 81% last year. Nearly 40% of travelers said they often feel pressure to spend the holidays with their families, and 22% said they often see family for the December holidays out of guilt.

Fifteen percent admitted they were not very excited about seeing their family over the December holidays this year, and 25% of those staying with their relatives over the holidays confessed they’d rather stay somewhere else. Nineteen percent even said they’ve cut a holiday family trip shorter than planned because they were “family-ed” out.

Travelers Confess to Holiday Stress
Nearly 50% of travelers said they often find the holidays stressful. As for the best remedy, 22% responded that taking a trip somewhere is the best holiday stress-reliever. Getting more sleep and avoiding crowds came in second and third, respectively.

A Holly Jolly Houseguest
With family crowded together for the holidays, there’s bound to be a glitch or two. The top faux pas committed by travelers when staying with or hosting family during the December holiday season are:

-Arguing with a family member: 31%
-Accidentally insulting a family member: 17%
-Forgetting to bring a present for someone: 13%

Santa vs. Scrooge
Given that the holidays can be a stressful time for travelers, it may not be surprising that 39% of respondents admit that when traveling for the holidays they identify more with Scrooge (”Bah humbug! Traveling for the holidays is a pain, not to mention expensive”), than the 61% who identify more with Santa (”I love traveling for the holidays!”).

Holiday Headaches
According to travelers, the least enjoyable parts of traveling for the December holidays remain the same as last year: airline delays and cancellations (25%), inclement weather (20%), and price of transportation (14%).

All I Want for Christmas is a GPS
Thirty-eight percent of travelers are hoping to receive a travel-related gift this December holiday season, while only 23% of travelers plan to buy one.

“Whether travelers identify more with Santa or Scrooge when it comes to holiday travel, the majority will be spending time with their families this December,” said Christine Petersen, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor. “With more people hitting the road, travelers should just try to relax and embrace the spirit of the season when faced with the inevitable stress of holiday travel.”

For more information, visit www.tripadvisor.com.