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ORLANDO, Fla. — Approximately 48.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving weekend, the highest volume for the holiday since 2007 and a 1.9-percent increase vs. 2015, according to an AAA travel forecast. This represents an increase of 1 million travelers.
The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 23 through Sunday, Nov. 27.
The increase in Thanksgiving travel is spurred by economic improvements during the second half of the year, the association found, as well as increase in wages, consumer spending and overall consumer confidence.
Despite recent incremental increases in the national average price of gasoline, AAA estimates drivers have saved more than $28 billion at the pumps so far this year vs. the same period 2015. Today’s national average price for a gallon of gas is $2.16, 11 cents more than the average price last year.
With drivers paying the second-cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008, when the national average was $1.85, driving will remain the most popular form of Turkey Day travel, cited by 89 percent of travelers. A Thanksgiving road trip represents an increase of 1.9 percent, or 43.5 million Americans, year over year.
Other highlights from AAA's Thanksgiving travel forecast include:
- Air travel will increase 1.6 percent, with 3.69 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations.
- Other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will slightly increase to 1.44 million travelers.
- According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares are projected to increase 21 percent this Thanksgiving.
- Daily car rental rates will average $52, or 13 percent lower than last Thanksgiving.
AAA.com bookings found that this year's top destinations for Thanksgiving include many popular West Coast cities, including: Las Vegas, San Fransico, San Diego, Orlando, New York, New Orleans, Anaheim, Calif., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Philadelphia, and Seattle.
"One million more Americans than last year will carve out time to visit with friends and family this Thanksgiving," AAA President and CEO Marshall Doney said. "Most will travel on the tried and true holiday road trip, thanks to gas prices that are holding at close to $2 per gallon. Others will fly, take the bus or set off on a cruise to celebrate with their loved ones."