I always find these kinds of lists interesting. Better yet if they come from a collection of believable statistics. These were based on the Orbitz bookings last year. One surprise for me was Thanksgiving week, which I thought always was the heaviest travel period of the year. Oh well, I guess you learn something new every year.

Even with all of the bad headlines and steady stream of problems, Las Vegas stayed at the top of the destination list. Cancun was tops for international travel. London topped the European travel category. And the top airline route in the U.S. was New York-Chicago.

Here are the details.

Busiest Air Travel Weeks in 2010: The top honor of busiest travel week once again goes to Christmas Week (Dec. 19 – Dec. 25), followed by the first week of August and the fourth week of June. Rounding out the top five was the third week of March, when many high schools and universities went on spring break.

Orbitz Insider Index: The Top Five Busiest Travel Weeks (1)

1. Christmas Week (Dec. 19 – Dec. 25)
2. August, First Week (Aug. 1 – Aug. 7)
3. June, Fourth Week (June 20 – 26)
4. June, Third Week (June 13 – 19)
5. March, Third Week (Mar. 14 – 20)

One important note: While Thanksgiving Week (Nov. 21 – 27) did not make the top 5 list, November 24 (Wednesday before Thanksgiving) was the single-busiest travel day of the year, followed by September 3 (Friday before Labor Day) and July 2 (Friday before Fourth of July).

Top 2010 U.S. Destinations: The usual suspects are back atop the 2010 list of the 10 most popular U.S. travel destinations. For the third year in a row Las Vegas, New York, and Chicago claimed the first three spots on the list.

Orbitz Insider Index: The Top U.S. Travel Destinations in 2010 (2)

1 Las Vegas, NV
2 New York, NY
3 Chicago, IL
4 San Francisco, CA
5 San Diego, CA
6 Orlando, FL
7 Honolulu,
8 New Orleans, LA
9 Washington, DC
10 Miami, FL

Notably absent are Boston which ranked ninth last year, and Los Angeles, which ranked fifth in 2009. New entrants include New Orleans, eighth on this year’s list, and Honolulu, one spot ahead at seventh.

Average daily hotel rates rose across the board for the top 10 U.S. destinations in 2010. However, there continues to be excellent value in cities like Las Vegas, San Diego, and Honolulu where hotel rates are still significantly below 2008 levels.

Top 2010 International Destinations: There was a good amount of movement in the top international destinations from a year ago, although Cancun retained top honors in 2010. San Juan took over the second spot this year, dropping London to third. There were a host of new entrants this year including Puerto Vallarta, Niagara Falls, Canada, and Rome.

Orbitz Insider Index: The Top International Travel Destinations in 2010 (3)

1 Cancun, Mexico
2 San Juan, Puerto Rico
3 London, England
4 Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
5 Riviera Maya, Mexico
6 Paris, France
7 Toronto, Canada
8 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
9 Niagara Falls, Canada
10 Rome, Italy

Warm weather destinations, and in particular Latin America, continued to have the most allure for Americans traveling internationally in 2010. In addition to scenic beaches, travelers benefitted from lower rates in both Riviera Maya and Puerto Vallarta, while Cancun stayed relatively unchanged.

Top 10 Most Popular U.S. Travel Routes: When it comes to the most popular U.S. flight routes in 2010, the City that Never Sleeps was either the origin or destination for every pairing in the top 10. The most popular route was New York to Chicago, followed by New York to Los Angeles. Rounding out the top 10, New York City was the most popular origination city in seven of the top 10 route pairings, as well as the most popular destination for travelers in Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco.

Orbitz Insider Index: The Most Popular U.S. Travel Routes in 2010 (4)
Origin City—Destination City
1 New York, NY—Chicago
2 New York, NY—Los Angeles
3 Los Angeles, CA—New York, NY
4 Chicago, IL—New York, NY
5 New York, NY—Fort Lauderdale
6 New York, NY—Orlando
7 New York, NY—Miami
8 New York, NY—San Francisco
9 New York, NY—Las Vegas
10 San Francisco—New York, NY