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49 Million To Drive, Fly, Cruise Over Thanksgiving

Traveling for Thanksgiving 2016? You'll be joined by 1 million more people over last year, according to surveys.
Traveling for Thanksgiving 2016? You'll be joined by 1 million more people over last year, according to surveys. Photo Credit: AAA

Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks and indulging in turkey and the all the trimmings. But it's also one of the busiest days for travel and 2016 is no exception.

An estimated 49 million folks – a nearly 2 percent increase over last year and the most travelers since 2007 – will travel between Nov. 23 and Nov. 27, according to AAA’s annual holiday travel survey.

Of the overall number,

  • 89 percent or 43.5 million people expect to travel 50 miles or more by motor vehicle. This is a 1.9 percent increase over last year.
  • An estimated 8 percent or 3.69 million will travel by plane, up 1.6 percent compared to last year.
  • The remaining 3 percent  or 1.44 million will go by train, boat or another mode of transportation.

Everyone has saved at the pumps. Overall, AAA estimates U.S. drivers nationally have saved more than $28 billion this year compared to the same period last year.

Aside from better gas prices, the economy is driving the increased Turkey time travel. People are experiencing rising wages, greater consumer spending and higher consumer confidence.

Tradition is another reason Thanksgiving is a big travel day. The holiday has always been known as the time for family and friends to gather so that traditional desire to spend time with loved ones is expected to propel a significant increase in travel, according to AAA.

Even though today’s national average price of a gallon of gas at $2.15, is more than Thanksgiving 2015 when prices averaged $2.05, US motorists generally will pay the second cheapest Thanksgiving prices since 2008 when the national average was $1.85.

To compare this to Connecticut’s, today’s statewide average of $2.31 is a nickel more than Thanksgiving 2015 when prices averaged $2.26. In 2008, Thanksgiving Day prices were around $2.03.

Prices are mixed for airfare, hotels and car rentals. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel index:

  • Airfares are projected to increase 21 percent this holiday, landing at an average of $205 for a roundtrip flight for the top 40 domestic routes.
  • Rates for AAA Three Diamond-rated lodgings are expected to be flat with travelers spending an average $155 each night.
  • Rates for AAA Two Diamond-rated lodgings are expected to rise 4 percent with an average nightly cost of $123.
  • Daily car rental rates are expected to average $52, 13 percent lower than last Thanksgiving.

The most popular destinations this Thanksgiving, based on bookings, are: Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego, Orlando, New York City, New Orleans, Anaheim, Fort Lauderdale, Philadelphia and Seattle.

AAA’s travel projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, which first teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.

AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit auto club with 62 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York, providing more than 2 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.

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