Thanksgiving holiday travel expected to be at highest in years - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Thanksgiving holiday travel expected to be at highest in years

Source: MGN Source: MGN
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

AAA Travel says that more than 46 million Americans are expected to celebrate Thanksgiving with a holiday getaway - the most since 2007.

This is a 4.2 percent increase over 2013. 

Almost 90 percent of travelers (41.3 million) will celebrate the holiday with a road trip and likely will enjoy the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices in five years. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, November 26 through Sunday, November 30.

AAA released some highlights for 2014 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast:

AAA says that this years projected number of Thanksgiving holiday travelers will be greatest growth rate for any holiday since Independence Day 2012.

Road trippers likely will pay the lowest Thanksgiving price for fuel in five years. Today's national average price of gas is $2.85 per gallon, which is 43 cents lower than the average price for Thanksgiving a year ago ($3.28 per gallon). 

More than 89 percent of travelers (41.3 million) will travel by automobile, a 4.3 percent increase from 39.6 million last year. 

Air travel for Thanksgiving is expected to be at the highest level since 2007, with 3.55 million Americans taking to the skies. 

Travelers will encounter moderately higher prices with airfares one percent higher, mid-range hotels up eight percent and car rentals costing 10 percent more. The average distance traveled this Thanksgiving will be 549 miles roundtrip and Americans will spend an average of $573 during the holiday weekend. 

AAA cites a boost in consumer confidence and an improving economy as key factors in the increase in travel this holiday. 

Lower fuel prices no doubt are also enabling families to carve out more money from household budgets for travel this Thanksgiving.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

The national price of gasoline has fallen below $3.00 per gallon for the first time since Dec. 22, 2010, a welcome gift for travelers as they head into the busy holiday travel season. 

AAA predicts most U.S. travelers likely will pay the cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices in five years. More than 89 percent (41.3 million) of holiday travelers will drive to their destination, a 4.3 percent increase from 2013.

Travel expenses rise modestly

According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase eight percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $154 per night compared to $142 last year. 

The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen nine percent with an average cost of $114 per night.

Weekend daily car rental rates will average $55, 10 percent higher than last year. Airfares will only increase one percent, with an average discounted round-trip rate of $189 across 40 top domestic routes.

Most of travelers' budgets go toward transportation, food and shopping

Travelers are expected to spend an average of $573 over the course of their holiday travels. 

Despite lower average gas prices, travelers are allocating 31 percent of their budgets to fuel transportation. Food and beverage and shopping will account for 22 percent and 20 percent of holiday travel budgets, respectively.

Travelers' spending plans mirror their intended activities this Thanksgiving, with 70 percent of travelers reporting they will enjoy dining during their vacation and 59 percent will go shopping. 

Eighty-nine percent of travelers plan to spend time with friends and family this Thanksgiving holiday.

AAA's says their projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. 

AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.

Copyright 2014 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

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