More Americans will be traveling to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, all thanks to improving economic scenario in the country.
An estimated 42.2 million travelers, up 11.4 percent compared to 37.9 million last year, are taking a trip at least 50 miles away from home this Thanksgiving, according to American Automobile Association (AAA), the nation's largest automobile club.
This year's projected increase in holiday travel appears to be the result of modestly improved economic conditions since last year, including an increase in gross domestic product, real disposable personal income and household net worth combined with a decrease in consumer debt, the association said.
The Thanksgiving holiday period is defined as Wednesday, November 24 to Sunday, November 28.
After a year of negligible growth of 0.2 percent - in Turkey Day travel last year, and a 25.2 percent plunge in holiday travel in 2008, the projected double-digit increase this Thanksgiving signifies an important upturn, AAA said.
While Americans remain cautious with household budgets and discretionary spending amidst high levels of unemployment, many are in a better financial position this Thanksgiving than a year ago, said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. This improvement, along with a strong desire to spend time with friends and family, is expected to propel a significant increase in Thanksgiving travel.
Trips by automobile remain the dominant mode of transportation for holiday travel with 94 percent of travelers, or 39.7 million people, reaching their destination by driving. This is an increase of 12 percent from last Thanksgiving when 35.5 million Americans reached their destination by motor vehicle. AAA expects the national average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline to remain between $2.85 and $2.95 during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period.
People travelling by air is expected to account for four percent of overall travel with 1.62 million holiday flyers, an increase of 3.5 percent from last year's 1.57 million flyers
AAA's projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays.