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Holiday Travel Rush

Winter break is officially here for local schoolchildren. On Friday, when the final bell rang, thousands of families up and down the coast transitioned from wrapping up everything at school to wrapping up gifts and visiting families for the holiday season.

“This week more people are coming in. They are having their oil changed, tires checked and their cars checked out before they travel and take off to see their family and friends for the holiday season,” said auto mechanic John Hendrickson.

Lower gas prices have encouraged people to take a year-end trip.

“I think when a lot of people travel, they pick a center meeting point and everyone meets there, has their holiday dinner and gets presents,” said Hendrickson.

AAA estimates that 96.5 million will get into their car this holiday season and drive at least 50 miles within the upcoming week.

That number has increased by 0.6 percent since last year.

The airports will be busy as well, but AAA reports that this year the air travel will be down compared to years past.

“I choose to fly out of Santa Barbara Airport because it is a very easy airport to deal with. I just show up like 45 minutes before my flight and you’re on,” said Sean Holmes, who is flying home for Christmas.

While thousands of locals hit the road to visit family, thousands more are inviting their families to come visit them here on the central coast.

El Encanto General Manager Laura McIver says she is very busy this time of year with people vacationing in Santa Barbara or visiting family for the holidays. “We do have a lot of families coming, multi-generations coming to visit each other staying in the hotel with multiple rooms.”

More than 30 Santa Barbara hotels are offering special resident rates during the holidays. The promotion offers locals up to 30 percent off hotel room rates. It is offered until January 15.

For more information on the hotel promotion visit:

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