Thanksgiving weekend the year's busiest holiday for travel
Taking a cue from Thanksgiving revelers, the roads look to be a little more stuffed this holiday, according to a AAA travel forecast Thanksgiving released Tuesday.
AAA projects that 43.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the holiday weekend, an increase of 0.7 percent over last year. This marks the fourth consecutive increase in Thanksgiving holiday travel since 2008, when the holiday travel period—defined as Wednesday through Sunday—fell by 25 percent.
Ninety percent of Thanksgiving travelers will be traveling by car, an increase over last year of 0.6 percent, AAA reports. Air travel is expected to decline from 3.2 million fliers in 2011 to 3.14 million.
Median spending is expected to drop 10 percent or $498, compared to $554 last year. This is consistent with historic averages as Americans prioritize travel while finding ways to economize in a still struggling economy.
Affluent households surveyed by Millionaire Corner plan on sticking close to home. Almost three-quarters (70 percent) said they do not intend to travel on Thanksgiving. Of those that are traveling, just over one-third (36 percent) plan on spending at least $600.
For drivers, a fair portion of that will probably be spent on gas. Thankfully, has prices have dropped 35 cents per gallon in the last month, but AAA estimates that the national average of a gallon of gas will be between $3.25-$3.40, similar to last year’s average which was the most expensive average ever on Thanksgiving. In comparison, the national average price for a gallon of gas on Thanksgiving between 2007-2011 was $2.75.
While hotel rates are expected to be similar to last year, car rental rates accelerated from $37 last year to $47.
This might explain why Thanksgiving travelers a staying a little closer to home. The average distance traveled during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is expected to be 588 miles, down 16.7 percent from last year.
What will the majority of Thanksgiving celebrants look forward to doing this year? Three-quarters said spending time with friends and family, while 56 percent said dining, AAA noted.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.