Thanksgiving puts 43 million Americans on the road

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Follow@EnergyDigital AAA projects 43.4 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decrease of...

AAA projects 43.4 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million people who traveled last year.

This decrease falls just shy of last Thanksgiving’s four-year peak since the recession-driven declines in 2008-2009 when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 27 to Sunday, Dec. 1.

Highlights from this year’s 2013 AAA Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast include:

-          Thanksgiving travelers to total 43.4 million, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million who traveled last year;

-          Ninety percent of travelers or 38.9 million to travel by automobile, a decline of 1.6 percent;

-          Median spending expected to drop nearly seven percent to $465, compared to $498 last year;

-          The Thanksgiving holiday is a less expensive holiday for travelers compared to other holidays. This year Labor Day spending was expected to be $804, Independence Day $749 and Memorial Day $659.

-          Holiday air travel to decline 3.7 percent to 3.14 million travelers from 3.26 million in 2012;

-          Average distance traveled to increase to 601 miles from 588 miles.

AAA estimates that most drivers will pay the cheapest gas prices for the Thanksgiving holiday since 2010. The national average is at the cheapest level of the year and should continue to drop in the weeks ahead. Drivers can find stations selling gas for less than $3 per gallon in the vast majority of states. The decreased cost of gas will provide consumers with real savings that could be used for other purposes on the trip.

Approximately 90 percent of travelers or 38.9 million people plan to travel by automobile this Thanksgiving. This is a 1.6 percent decrease over the 39.5 million people who traveled by auto last year. Air travel is expected to decrease 3.7 percent as 3.14 million holiday travelers will take to the skies.

According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is expected to be 601 miles, which is an increase of 2.2 percent from last year when travelers planned to log 588 miles.

AAA asked intended travelers which days they return from Thanksgiving travel. Among those surveyed, the highest volumes of travelers plan to return the following Sunday (33 percent) with another 24 percent expecting to return on Monday, Dec. 2 or later.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance. Members using the iPad version can access interactive Top Destinations travel guides for popular cities. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

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