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Despite the pandemic, Utahns traveled more over Christmas than most Americans

Comes after the state led the nation in Thanksgiving road trips.

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Traffic moves along I-15 in Salt Lake City on September 3, 2020. While Utahns reduced Christmas trips during the pandemic, most states reduced them even more.

Amid COVID-19 threats, Utahns still hit the road for Christmas trips more than most Americans.

Utahns did cut their road trips between Dec. 18 and Dec. 27 by 20.1% compared to last year. But most Americans reduced them even more, by an average nationally of 27.8%.

That’s according to data released Wednesday by the travel data company Arrivalist and its Daily Travel Index. The company uses representative GPS data from phones to measure trips of 50 miles or more initiated on those days. It did not include road trips of less than 50 miles.

Earlier during the Thanksgiving holiday, Utah actually ranked the worst in the continental states for reducing trips this year — when residents cut trips by 13.9% compared to a national average of 35%.

During the Christmas holiday period, seven states among the lower 48 ranked worse than Utah.

They were: Florida (-10.3%), South Dakota (-16.3%), Louisiana (-17.7%), North Dakota (-19.2%), Oklahoma (-19.3%), Colorado (-19.5%) and Montana (-19.5%).

Also, Alaska actually increased Christmas road trips by 0.8%, and Hawaii reduced them by just 8.5%.

The states that cut down on Christmas road trips the most were Vermont (-52.9%), Connecticut (-44.8%) and New Hampshire (-43.1%).

(courtesy of Arrivalist) Map showing change in Christmas road trips by state during 2020.

Arrivalist noted that travel was down on every day during the holiday period nationally except for Christmas Eve, when it said the number of road trip departure essentially matched last year.

Meanwhile, air traffic also was up in Utah.

“We had some of the highest numbers of passengers since the pandemic hit,” said Nancy Volmer, spokesperson for Salt Lake City International Airport.

The day with the most traffic was on Dec. 23, when 18,500 passengers came through the front door. She said on a typical Christmas season day before the pandemic, between 26,000 and 28,000 people would normally arrive.

The second-highest number was on Sunday, Dec. 27, with 17,700 people.

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