Expect a jump in Thanksgiving travel

For the fourth consecutive year, Thanksgiving travel is expected to increase, although this year it’s considered a very slight increase.

In its annual Thanksgiving travel survey, AAA (Automobile Association of America) projects 43.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the upcoming holiday week. The number reflects a 0.7% increase over last year.

This increase marks the fourth consecutive year of growing holiday travelers since 2008, when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25%.

AAA defines the holiday travel period from Nov. 21 to 25.

Of the 43.6 million folks who say they’ll travel this holiday:

• 90% of travelers, or 39.1 million, plan to hit the road by car. This is an increase of 0.6%.

• 7%, or 3.14 million — a 1.7% decline — expects to fly.

• The remaining 1.3 million will choose some other mode of transportation, including rail, bus or cruise ship.

Despite higher gas costs this year, auto travel continues to be the transportation mode of choice because of its affordability, convenience and flexibility. To offset these higher gas costs, Americans plan to stay closer to home and economize where they can. According to survey highlights:

• 13.3% of the New England population to be among the millions of folks driving or flying.

• This year’s travelers will log an average of about 588 miles round-trip, compared to the 706 miles last year.

• 75% will stay with family and friends.

• 45% say they’ll leave Wednesday (Nov. 21) for their trips, and 36% expect to return Sunday (Nov. 25). About a quarter said they’d return home Monday (Nov. 26).

• Median spending is expected to drop 10% to $498 compared to $554 last year.

The complete survey may be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

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