AAA projects 43.4 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million people who traveled last year. This decrease falls just shy of last Thanksgiving’s four-year peak since the recession-driven declines in 2008-2009 when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 27 to Sunday, Dec. 1.
The South Atlantic Region, (including West Virginia) Thanksgiving Forecast Highlights: Thanksgiving holiday travelers to total 8.10 million, down 0.7 percent; 7.34 million will travel by automobile, down 1.1% from 2012; 570,000 will fly to their destination, down 1.5% percent from last year.
“Last year’s travel numbers included pent up demand resulting from the economic downturn,” according to Jim Lehman, President, AAA East Central. “Although slightly lower this year, the forecast is consistent with the travel trends that we have seen throughout the year. Motorists will also enjoy the bonus of lower gas prices, which are at their lowest level for the holiday since 2010,” he added.
Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans – The national average is at the cheapest level of the year and should continue to drop in the weeks ahead. The decreased cost of gas will provide consumers with real savings that could be used for other purposes on the trip.
Wednesday before the holiday will be busiest travel day. The Thanksgiving holiday is unique falling on a Thursday every year. Many people are off from work the Friday after; giving travelers more time to spend with family and friends. AAA asked intended travelers which days they would depart for and return from Thanksgiving travel. Among those surveyed, the highest volumes of travelers plan to leave for their trip the Wednesday before the holiday (37 percent) and return the following Sunday (33 percent) with another 24 percent expecting to return on Monday, Dec 2 or later.
Median spending down almost seven percent; visiting family, dining and shopping top activities. Median spending is expected to be $465, a 6.6 percent decrease compared to the expected median spending of intended holiday travelers ($498) in 2012.
AAA East Central is a not-for-profit organization with 82 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, servicing 2.7 million members.