Thanksgiving week travel is expected to reach a post-recession high this year, with more than 50 million Americans expected to venture out — the most traveling in more than a decade.
About 50.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this week, a 3.3 percent — or 1.6 million more people — increase over last year. Travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the optimal trip, according to AAA.
“A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, fueling a strong year for the travel industry, which will continue into the holiday season,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of travel and publishing.
Last year, an estimated 48.7 Americans traveled by the roads, skies, rails and waterways. Ohioans accounted for 2 million of those travelers last year, according to AAA estimates, representing an increase of 2 percent over 2015.
Approximately 2.1 million Ohioans are expected to travel from home for the holidays. Nearly 1.9 million Ohioans plan to drive to their destination, an increase of 3.3 percent over last year.
“Thanksgiving kicks off the start of a busy holiday season, and more thankful Americans will travel to spend time with friends and family this year,” said AAA Public Affairs Manager Cindy Antrican. “A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, fueling a strong year for the travel industry, which will continue into the holiday season.”
About 89 percent of all travelers 45.5 million — are planning to travel by car, an increase of 3.2 percent over last year. Drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014, according to AAA. This November’s national average price is $2.54, which is 37 cents more than last November.
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“Compared to the first half of November last year, gas prices this November are on average 39-cents more expensive,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “However, while November gas prices have come in like a lion, AAA expects them to go out like a lamb.”
Ohio made the list of the largest gas price changes. The nation’s top 10 states with the largest weekly changes: Florida (+13 cents), Indiana (-13 cents), Alaska (+12 cents), Ohio (-10 cents), Georgia (+7 cents), Oregon (+7 cents), North Carolina (+6 cents), Illinois (-6 cents), Texas (+6 cents) and South Carolina (+6 cents).
While gas will be more expensive, consumers will pay the cheapest average airfare since 2013 — and more travelers will fly this year. Air travel is expected to grow by 5 percent this year, with 3.95 million travelers choosing to board planes.
Jay Ratliff, local aviation expert, said during the holidays airports are filled with travelers who only fly once or twice a year. That can cause delays through the security and boarding processes. He also advised that travelers make sure they have a seat assignment confirmation before arriving to the airport to ensure they won’t be put on standby. Airlines typically overbook flights.
Weather could also impact air travel for the holiday. A storm is expected to sweep across the nation during the weekend. Motorists may have to slow their commute and rely heavily on their windshield wipers. Airline passengers from St. Louis to Nashville, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Pittsburgh may face some turbulence and delays.
BY THE NUMBERS
• 89 percent of all travelers – 45.5 million – are planning a Thanksgiving road trip
• 50.9 million Americans will 50 or more miles from home this Thanksgiving holiday
• 3.3 percent more will people travel compared to last year
Top 10 Thanksgiving destinations
1. Orlando, Fla.
2. Anaheim, Calif.
3. New York City
4. Honolulu, Hawaii
5. Las Vegas
6. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
7. Cancun, Mexico
8. San Francisco
9, Maui, Hawaii
10. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
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