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Travelers want to do more this New Year’s Eve, but will probably settle for freezing in Times Square

Reuters/Gary Hershorn
Isn’t once enough?
By Leslie Josephs
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

After this presidential election, who can blame US travelers for wanting to welcome 2017 on foreign soil?

Travelers based in the US and Canada who are planning their New Year’s getaway are considering Sydney and Auckland much more than last year, according to price-comparison site Kayak. Kayak looked at departures starting Dec. 26 to Dec. 31 and returning flight searches from Jan. 1 to Jan. 3, and found flight searches to the two cities rose 164% and 73%, respectively, from last year.

But Iceland is the clear winner in the race for hosting North Americans during the 2016-2017 transition. Searches to Reykjavík around the holiday rose 165% this year from last, Kayak said. Iceland is already grappling with a surge in tourism and the newfound popularity may mean that News Year’s visitors won’t exactly be escaping the crowds of more traditional destinations like New York’s Times Square.

Other New Year’s Eve destinations that have gained popularity from last year include San Salvador (up 70%), Dublin (65%) and Guadalajara (51%). US and Canadian travelers aren’t ditching the US entirely. Searches for flights to Nashville and Minneapolis were more popular this year than last, the data show.

One reason North American travelers may suddenly appear more worldly is that international flights have become more affordable this year, the product of cheap fuel prices and increased competition between carriers.

But while travelers are browsing more adventurously, in the end most voyagers don’t stray too far from the beaten path. Orlando and Cancun in 2016 again took the the top overall spots for most popular New Year’s holiday travel searches, Kayak said. San Juan, Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and Fort Lauderdale are also among the top 10 destinations this year, just like in 2015.

Kayak says the most popular searches from the US and Canada for the New Year’s holiday are:

New York
Las Vegas
San Juan
Los Angeles
Fort Lauderdale

And New York City, where strong-bladdered travelers stand for eight hours or more with a million other revelers to ring in the new year in Times Square, is now the third most-searched destination—up five spots from last year.

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