Mostly Cloudy
60°FMostly CloudyFull Forecast

AAA: Thanksgiving travel should increase slightly

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012 11:49 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Gregory Bull STF)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011, file photo, cars fill the highway two days before Thanksgiving, in San Diego. The number of Americans hitting the road for Thanksgiving in 2012, is expected to increase slightly from a year ago, according to AAAís annual Thanksgiving travel forecast released Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012. But theyíll take shorter trips to save on gas and other costs as household budgets remain tight. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

NEW YORK – Slightly more Americans will hit the road this Thanksgiving, according to AAA. But they'll take shorter trips to save on gas and other costs as household budgets remain tight.

In its annual Thanksgiving travel forecast released Tuesday, AAA predicts 43.6 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home over the holiday, up just 0.7 percent from last year. That compares with healthier growth of 8 and 6 percent, respectively, in the last two years. Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent in 2008, the first full holiday season after the recession began.

The number of travelers forecast to drive, fly or hop on a train or bus is still 26 percent below the peak in 2005 and 14 percent below 2007.

Holiday travel is mostly done by car and a dramatic drop in gas prices could inspire some reluctant travelers to get behind the wheel. The national average has declined 35 cents per gallon in the last month. AAA expects further declines through the holiday, although the price of gas on Thanksgiving Day should be close to last year's record of $3.32 per gallon.

AAA says that a stronger economy is needed to spur a bigger jump in travel demand. The auto club believes that trips will average 588 miles this year, down from 706 miles a year earlier. That's partly because of an expected decline in air travelers. But it also reflects a continued focus on saving money.

"Despite mild improvements in unemployment, the housing market and greater consumer optimism, the economy is still struggling to keep its head above water," AAA said in its forecast.

Airlines for America, the main trade group for U.S. airlines expects a mild increase in flying over Thanksgiving, although it uses a 12-day period for its prediction. AAA defines the Thanksgiving holiday travel period as Wednesday, Nov. 21 to Sunday, Nov. 25.

AAA's forecast, which is produced from a combination of a traveler survey and economic analysis, was done before Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast. AAA said it doesn't yet know the full impact the storm will have on travel in the Mid-Atlantic region, but it expects it will be significant.

Get breaking and town-specific news sent to your phone. Sign up for text alerts from the Daily Chronicle.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Watch Now

Player embeded on all DDC instances for analytics purposes.

Judge Denies Motion to Drop Rifkin Charge

More videos »

Reader Poll

How much are you comfortable spending on a purchase without consulting your spouse first?
Up to $500
Between $501 and $750
Between $751 and $1,000
More than $1,000