Over 42 Million Travelers to Hit the Road for Thanksgiving Weekend
AAA has predicted that about 42.5 million Americans plan to travel at least 50 miles over the Thanksgiving weekend. This represent a four percent rise over the 40 million who traveled last year. Holiday traffic for the rest of 2011 saw little to no rises over 2010, but this is encouraging news for travel retailers as Thanksgiving draws nearer. The travel period begins on Wednesday, November 23rd and ends on Sunday, November 27th. Travelers who have put off traveling for the past three years due to the poor economy are beginning to travel again because they are tired of staying home and missing out on family gatherings.
Memorial Day saw the exact same number of travelers on the roads and in the air as last year, while Labor Day and Independence Day saw slight decreases of about 2.5 percent. The biggest economic health indicators have been rising steadily over the course of 2011, but finances aren’t steady enough for Americans to return travel levels to where they were before 2008. That year was the lowest travel volume for over a decade, with only 37.8 million people traveling. Holiday travel has slowly been recovering as more people choose to see their family over saving money.
Automobile travel will remain the main mode of transportation for Thanksgiving travelers, with 90% planning to use a car or van. The relatively low cost of fuel and the flexibility of driving has kept it popular for both short and long distance travel. Gasoline is approximately 50 cents cheaper on average than it was in 2010 and 60 cents lower than the peak price it hit in May of this year. Even though airfare is increasing, 3.4 million people plan to use it this year. This is a 1.8 percent rise over 2010. Only two percent of Americans plan to use a bus, train or other form of transportation to reach their holiday destinations.