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Thanksgiving Travel Expected to Rise in 2012

Fewer people plan to fly, but more will be driving despite the cost of gas according to this news release from AAA Southern New England.

AAA projects 43.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the upcoming holiday week.

The number reflects a seven-tenths of a percent (.7 percent) increase from 2011 and the fourth consecutive year of growing holiday travelers since 2008, when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent. 

Of the 43.6 million folks who say they’ll travel this holiday from Nov. 21-25:

  • 90 percent of travelers or 39.1 million plan to hit the road by car. This is an increase of sixth-tenths of a percent (.6 percent);
  • 7 percent or 3.14 million --  a 1.7 percent decline – expects to fly; and
  • 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 percent of the New England population to be among the millions of folks driving or flying with auto travel rising seven-tenths of a percent and air travel declining 1.6 percent compared to last year.
  • This year’s travelers will log on average about 588 miles round trip, compared to the 706 miles;
  • 75 percent will stay with family and friends;
  • 45 percent say they’ll leave Wednesday (Nov. 21) for their trips; and 36 percent expect to return Sunday (Nov. 25). About a quarter said they’d return home Monday (Nov. 26); and
  • Median spending expects to drop 10 percent to $498 compared to $554 last year.

AAA’s projections are based on forecasting by IHS Global Insight, a Boston-based economic research firm that teamed with AAA in 2009 to analyze travel trends during the major holidays. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight survey can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

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