CHAPEL HILL – A record 2.8 million North Carolinians will travel 50 miles or more for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, according to AAA Carolinas.

Angela Daley of AAA says that’s an increase of 48,500 total travelers compared to last year.

“The increase is only about 1.7 percent, so it is not a significant increase, but we have seen very slow and steady increases since the recession,” Daley says. “With Christmas and New Year’s holidays, we never really saw a huge drop-off because of the recession.”

Daley says that more than 90 percent of travelers plan to drive to their destination.

And good news for everyone, gas prices haven’t gone up. North Carolina gas prices currently average $3.23 per gallon— the same price as a year ago. Motorists can find the cheapest gasoline in North Carolina in High Point at $3.18 a gallon and the most expensive gas in Boone at $3.30.

South Carolina offers lower prices with $3.07 a gallon, Tennessee with $3.06, Virginia with $3.15, and Georgia with $3.17.

“I do think that with the improving economy, people are less concerned about what they are paying at the pump,” Daley says. “For a majority of this year, we have been paying less than we were on the same calendar date a year ago.”

The 12-day Christmas and New Year’s travel holiday is defined as Saturday, Dec. 21, through Wednesday, Jan. 1, which is one day longer than the travel period last year, Daley explains. The year-end holiday ranges from 10 to 13 days, and volume often increases relative to length.