A wobbly economy and high gas prices aren't enough to deter Americans from traveling over the 2011 Thanksgiving weekend.
A new AAA survey finds that 42.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving weekend. That's a four percent increase from the 40.9 million people who traveled one year ago.
The survey's upbeat findings mark the first significant increase in any holiday travel this year. Memorial Day was statistically flat, while July 4 and Labor Day travel experienced moderate decreases.
This year also marks the highest number of travelers since the recession kicked in. In 2007, over 50 million Americans traveled for Thanksgiving. The following year, that number dropped to just 37.8.
Here's a look at some tips for Thanksgiving travelers both in the air and on the ground as well as important ways to save time and money.
Tips for the Air
Get to the Airport Early - allow at least two hours for check-in and security lines, even for short domestic flights.
Travel Light - Traveling light will save you time and money, especially with increasingly hefty checked-bag fees.
Print out your Boarding Pass: Get this done at home before you leave and head straight to security when you get to the airport.
Check for Delays - Before you head to the airport, double-check for flight delays. You can also sign up through an airline's website for flight-delay alerts. Also, have a number for your airline handy in case of flight cancellations.
Don't Wrap Gifts - TSA urges travelers not to wrap gifts until they've arrived at their destination. Furthermore, food items such as jams, salsas, sauces, syrups and dips will not be allowed through the checkpoint unless they are in containers three ounces or less and in your one quart zip-top bag.
Don't Forget Your ID - Any passenger 18 and older will need a federal or state-issued photo ID at airport checkpoints. All passengers traveling internationally will need their passport.
Don't Stress - Relax, it's the holidays! Consider splurging on a day pass to an airline lounge for nice seats, tasty drinks, and less crowds.
Check TSA's 3-1-1 for Holiday Travel page for more trips for air travel over Thanksgiving weekend.
Tips for the Road
Know When to Travel - AAA estimates that 90 percent of holiday travelers will use the nation's roadways, and both Wednesday and Sunday afternoons and evenings will be the busiest times. If you can avoid traveling at these peak times, you'll have a more enjoyable trip.
Know what to Pack - If you're stuck in traffic on the highway in the middle of nowhere, you're going to want to have some drinks and snacks on hand to hold you over. In addition to snacks, make a point of packing for automotive emergencies. Make sure your car has a flashlight, blankets, a car cellphone charger, a can of aerosol tire repair, duct tape, and motor oil ... just in case!
Check Gas Prices - The average price of gasoline is $3.40 per gallon, 51 cents higher than last year. Check AAA's Fuel Gauge Report or the website Gas Buddy to find the best spots to fuel up and save.
Check Road Conditions - If you are traveling in a cold or mountainous region, make sure to check the road conditions before you head out.
Rest Up - Get 6-8 hours of sleep the night before a long trip. Fatigue decreases reaction time and awareness. The last thing you need on your holiday weekend is an accident.
Consider Renting a Car - Daily car rental rates will average $37 over Thanksgiving week, an 11 percent decrease from one year ago. If you're car isn't fit for a long trip, you may want to consider renting one that is.
Tips for the Rails
Know When to Travel - Like the other modes, trains will be busiest on Wednesday and Sunday. Last year, a record 700,000 people took trains nationwide over Thanksgiving week, so expect large crowds.
Book Ahead - Avoid the long lines at the station by booking your travel online ahead of time. You can then pick up your tickets using the barcode on your confirmation email or a credit card at any automated Quik-Trak ticket kiosk location in the station.
Know the Baggage Policy - During the holidays, Amtrak strictly enforces its baggage policy. Carry-on luggage is limited to two pieces. The full details can be found on Amtrak's baggage policy page.
Look Online for the Latest Schedules - Use the Fare Finder tool on Amtrak.com for the most up-to-date schedule information available.
Have any other tips? Share them in the comments below.