Thanksgiving Travel Expected Up About One Percent From 2004

MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 17 /PRNewswire/ — Reduced consumer confidence and higher travel prices will slow the growth in American’s travel plans but will not keep families home this Thanksgiving. AAA projects that 37.29 million Americans will take a trip of 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving holiday weekend. This is a 0.8 percent increase above the 37 million who traveled last year.

Approximately 30.84 million travelers (83 percent of all holiday travelers) expect to go by motor vehicle, a 0.7 percent increase from the 30.61 million who drove a year ago. Another 4.64 million (12 percent) plan to go by airplane, up 1.3 percent from last Thanksgiving when 4.59 million flew. A projected 1.81 million vacationers (5 percent) will go by train, bus or other mode of transportation, up slightly from 1.80 million a year ago.

“Higher prices and sagging consumer confidence will make Thanksgiving travel growth a bit less robust this holiday, although airports and highways still be will as busy as ever,” said Dawn Duffy, AAA spokesperson. “Prices for gasoline, hotel rooms and rental cars have increased, but that will not keep people from traveling. You’d be hard pressed to tell Grandma that you weren’t coming for Thanksgiving dinner just because it will cost an extra $10 to fill up the gas tank.”

Thanksgiving holiday travelers will find gas prices nationwide currently averaging $2.27 – down 47 cents in the past month, but still about 31 cents higher than a year ago.

In addition to higher pump prices, AAA’s Leisure Travel Index reports holiday hotel rates are up 1.5 percent (at AAA-rated Three Diamond hotels) as strong demand allows hoteliers to increase rates that they raised last year, too. Car rentals are increasing 3.2 percent from last year.

The one exception to these higher prices is in airfares, where expanded service by low cost carriers on some routes has pushed fares down 4.8 percent on average. However, many of these cheaper tickets were snapped up earlier than expected, as many people booked during the summer instead of waiting until September.

The greatest number of Thanksgiving auto travelers will originate in the Southeast with 8.81 million; followed by the West, 7.05 million; Midwest, 6.58 million; Great Lakes, 6.06 million; and Northeast, 2.34 million.

The Southeast also is expected to produce the largest number of air travelers, with 1.27 million, followed by the West with 1.24 million, Midwest with 760,000; Northeast with 750,000 and Great Lake with 620,000.

Small towns and rural areas top the list of preferred destinations, with 37 percent of the travel volume. Cities are the destination for 34 percent of travelers, followed by oceans and beaches, 10 percent; mountains, 10 percent; lakes, 3 percent; state/national parks, 2 percent; and theme/amusement parks, 1 percent. Another 3 percent responded with other.

Of the total Thanksgiving travelers, 55 percent will stay with friends or relatives and another 28 percent expect to stay at a hotel/motel. Other overnight plans include cabin/condo, 7 percent; camper/trailer/RV/tent, 2 percent; bed and breakfast, 2 percent, other, 2 percent; no overnight stay, 3 percent; and didn’t know, 1 percent.

Thanksgiving travel figures are based on a national telephone survey of 1,383 adults by the Travel Industry Association of America.

AAA ( ) offers automotive, travel, insurance and financial services to more than 45 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA Minnesota/Iowa is part of The Auto Club Group, with 4.1 million members in eight Midwest states. AAA Minneapolis serves more than 175,000 members in Hennepin County.

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