AAA: Thanksgiving Travel Slightly Down From Last Year

For the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend, AAA projects 43.4 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home, a decrease of 1.5% from the 44 million people who traveled last year, according to the “AAA Thanksgiving 2013 Travel Forecast.”

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%.

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday Nov. 27 to Sunday Dec. 1, with Wednesday predicted to be the busiest single day of travel, says the report.

“While the economy continues to improve, the sluggish pace of the recovery is creating uncertainty in the minds of some consumers, and therefore AAA is projecting a slight decline in the number of Thanksgiving travelers this year,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA chief operating officer. “For those traveling, the good news is motorists will receive a holiday bonus in the form of lower gas prices, which are at their lowest levels for the holiday since 2010.”

According to the AAA report, 38.9 million people (90%) plan to travel by automobile, a decline of 1.6% from 39.5 million who drove last year. The average distance is expected to be 601 miles — an increase of 2.2% from last year when travelers planned to log 588 miles.

When it comes to gas prices, AAA estimates that most drivers will pay the cheapest gas prices for the Thanksgiving holiday since 2010. In fact, 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, says AAA.

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, daily car rental rates during the weekend will average $50 — 6% more than last year’s average of $47.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight, a Colorado-based business information provider.

For the complete “AAA/IHS Global Insight Labor Day 2013 Forecast,” visit http://newsroom.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/6-Thanksgiving_2013_Final.pdf.

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